‘The players didn’t know’: Arteta reveals Arsene Wenger’s secret Emirates return

Mikel Arteta hopes Arsene Wenger’s first trip to the UAE since leaving the club in 2018 will be the first of many future visits by the former Arsenal manager.

Wenger’s appearance capped off a great boxing day for the hosts who watched their side complete a 3-1 comeback to defeat struggling West Ham. “There’s only one Arsene Wenger” erupted from the stands after Gabriel Martinelli fired the hosts ahead in the second half en route to a tenth successive home win for the hosts, equaling the all-time record.

“No, the players don’t know,” Arteta said, extolled with a chant of his own. “We wanted to keep it calm and make this space available for Arsene. A very special day, thank you so much for coming.

“I hope that as he walks through the building he will feel everything he left here too. His presence is something that should be very associated with the football club so thank you for doing that because it means a lot to everyone at the club.

“I participated in this process [of bringing him] But it’s about him, the timing he needs to make that step, and I hope he leaves here and is willing to spend more time with us and be around us because he has a huge impact: for me personally, for my career, for the way I see the game, and also for the football club. This “.

Arsenal threatened throughout the first half, controlling the ball, but became frustrated because Said Benrahma’s penalty kick was the only goal at the break. The hosts regrouped and Bukayo Saka equalized eight minutes into the second half before Martinelli fired Arsenal into the lead.

Eddie Nketiah celebrates after completing his conversion for Arsenal. Photo: Alex Buntling/Getty Images

Eddie Nketiah, making his first start for Arsenal in place of the injured Gabriel Jesus, had been vocally supported by the Emirates fans since kick off, and they finally got their rewards when Martin Odegaard tapped the ball in for the 23-year-old, who was fine. He pivoted on his marker before firing into the bottom corner as the fans chanted his name.

Arteta did not speak to his predecessor when he spoke to the media after the match and said the win, which extended his team’s lead in the Premier League to seven points, was the perfect start to talks. “It’s obviously cool,” he said. “The win, my mood, it would be better to talk to him and be on the team.

“So yeah, he picked the right moment, a really special day because Boxing Day is a beautiful day to play football and I think the performance was at the level we deserved today, I hope he likes it.”

West Ham boss David Moyes expressed his frustration after a “light” second-half display from his side. “We showed some good dependence and were resolute in the first half,” he said. “We’ve done things that we’re really good at, and we’ve done over the last few years, [so] That we can be strong and hard to beat. We did, but we didn’t in the second half. Arsenal played well in the first half – maybe they played as well in the first half as they did in the second – but we got weak in the second half and gave them chances to score.”

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