Mikel Arteta agrees with Andy Murray about ‘tremendous’ Arsenal star | Football | Sport

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was full of praise for the “tremendous” Kai Havertz as the Gunners returned to the top of the Premier League table with a 3-0 win away at Brighton on Saturday night. The German scored one and set up another with British tennis icon and Arsenal supporter Andy Murray posting after the full-time whistle: “How good is @kaihavertz2. Easily one of the best forwards in the prem!”

And Arteta was similarly keen to point out that Havertz, whose goal to make it 2-0 on the south coast was his ninth Premier League strike of the campaign, is one of the most in-form players in the division right now.

The Spaniard told Sky Sports: “He was tremendous again today. His overall performance has been superb. Now his goal contributions are higher than anybody else in the league I think in the last few months. That tells the story.

“His work rate – he was chasing 70 metres here. A player that has this heart, and this determination, that’s why everybody loves him. [The goal was about] Being there in the right time. Jorginho running there, I was a bit surprised by that! But it was a good goal.”

Bukayo Saka scored his 14th league goal of the season from the penalty spot in the first half after Tariq Lamptey scythed Gabriel Jesus down. And Havertz converted Jorginho’s low cross to double the lead on the hour mark.

The summer signing from Chelsea is now on nine league goals which is more than he ever managed in a single season at Stamford Bridge. Leandro Trossard was booed onto the pitch by the Brighton fans but rubbed salt in the wounds with a chipped late third after being flicked through by Havertz.

Arteta added: “Really happy. Big performance. They haven’t lost here since August – that tells you the story. They are a really, really good team. Extremely well coached. They make life really difficult for you.

“Today we were outstanding and we needed that level to beat them today. We showed a lot of quality. With the ball we’re really connected and have real purpose and clarity, we know where to attack and when to attack. Without the ball we were so disciplined.

“When we’re high up the pitch, they’re [Brighton] the best team in the league by breaking that press and then you have to track back. We were really humble to be in certain positions and to be patient and to regain the ball and hurt them.

“We obviously went through a lot of moments together. The chemistry you build within the team is very important. We signed some tremendous players which always helps. It’s about them. It’s a good moment because squad is healthy, the momentum is good, the energy around the place is good. We’ve been through it already and I think that helps.”

Goalscorer Saka overcame a muscle injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s win over Luton. He lasted 64 minutes at the Amex Stadium.

And he told Sky Sports: “Inside [the dressing room] we’re all buzzing. We know the win takes us back on top so we’re happy. To come here after playing three days ago as well, I’m really happy for all the boys who put in another top performance. We’re building momentum.

“Yeah I was struggling [pre-match]. As long as I have two legs I’m going to give everything. I just want to be on the pitch. I’m happy to be out there today. Brighton are really good, especially at home. But I felt we defended really well like we have been this season.

“Last season was not great. But we learnt our lessons and games like this we need to put to bed. This year we feel more comfortable, the team is better. We are in a great position, we just need to continue.”

The one-sided victory improves Arsenal’s goal difference even further over title rivals Manchester City and Liverpool. Their tally of +51 is their highest since the final day of the 2004-05 season.

The north Londoners are on 71 points with seven games to go. However, Liverpool can move back to the summit if they beat bitter rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The Gunners, who have now managed 14 clean sheets from 31 league matches this term, return to Champions League action in midweek with a quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich. The Bundesliga club have lost both of their last two games.

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