December 26, 2019 / 6:43 PM / 25 days ago

Animated Arteta praises Arsenal's fighting spirit

(Reuters) - Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta cut an animated figure on the sideline as his side came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Bournemouth on Thursday, and the Spanish coach praised his players’ resilience in his first game in charge.

Soccer Football - Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - December 26, 2019 Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta before the match REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

The 37-year-old Spaniard was seeking to steady the ship at the Emirates following the sacking of Unai Emery, but Bournemouth’s first-half goal threatened to shatter his side’s fragile confidence.

“I was worried to see what happened if we conceded, and was very happy with their character - a lot of things from the past can come back, but that didn’t happen,” Arteta told a news conference.

“I’m very pleased with some of the things I’ve seen in terms of attitude, character, the passion we showed and the fighting spirit the team showed - spot on. Probably better than I expected over 90 minutes.”

With a little less sloppy passing and more clinical finishing, Arteta could have come away with a Premier League win.

“It would have been great (to win) because it would have given us a better lift in terms of the energy and confidence of the team but we have to analyse the performance,” he said.

Arteta singled out forward Mesut Ozil, who has been linked with a move away form the club, for particular praise following an excellent all-round performance.

“To be fair, his attitude in training since the day that I walked in the building has been incredible. I’ve seen this and I said I would give a clean slate to everybody and that was for him too,” Arteta explained.

“When we were preparing and watching where we could hurt the opponent, we believed he (Ozil) could be a key point. Like this, he responded, did what he had to do and we could have put two or three goals in the net because of him.”

Arteta now has breathing space to prepare his side to host Chelsea on Sunday before another home game against Manchester United on New Year’s Day.

Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond

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