Mikel Arteta singles out Arsenal star for praise after Luton Town win | Football

Mikel Arteta was pleased with Arsenal’s routine win over Luton (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta singled out Emile Smith Rowe for praise after Arsenal beat Luton Town 2-0 to return to the top of the Premier League.

Smith Rowe was offered a rare start against relegation-battlers Luton as Arteta rung the changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Manchester City at the weekend.

It was an opportunity for Smith Rowe to impress his manager and show he can contribute during the run-in as Arsenal seek their first Premier League title since 2004.

The 23-year-old played a role in both goals, intercepting a Luton player in the build-up to Martin Odegaard’s precise opener and then providing the cross that forced Daiki Hashioka to inadvertently put past his own keeper.

Smith Rowe made way for Jorginho in the 85th minute and received a standing ovation from the Emirates faithful and the Player of the Match award from co-commentator Robbie Savage.

‘I was really impressed with him,’ Arteta said of Smith Rowe. ‘He has been training really well and we felt the game could suit us.

‘I love him as a player, it is a joy to watch how he moves and how he changes direction. He was physical today without the ball, he wanted to make things happen. It was difficult to stop him and he helped us a lot to win the game.

Emile Smith Rowe in action for Arsenal against Luton

Emile Smith Rowe impressed on a rare start for the Gunners (Picture: Getty)

‘I’m really pleased for the boys who came in. It is a busy month so we will need them all. We have started well again after an international break and next is Brighton.’

On his side’s performance, Arteta added: ‘Very happy. It was a really difficult game and credit to Luton, they are a very good side and make it difficult for us.

‘We scored two really good goals in the first half, in the second half because of the way they play we didn’t get the right rhythm.

‘I am so happy with the boys who came in, they made a difference. Now we have a bigger squad with nearly everyone fit and available.’

The victory over Luton sees Arsenal move to the top of the Premier League table, although Liverpool will overtake them again if they beat Sheffield United tomorrow.

Luton remain 18th – three points from safety – and have seven more games to secure their Premier League survival.

Hatters boss Rob Edwards said: ‘Parts of our performance were exceptional. After we went 1-0 down we saw a bit more of us, we were a bit braver and committed to be the team we wanted to be.

‘I saw so many good things out there today. I thought the second half was an excellent performance by us.

‘To stay in the game and still be in the game late on was really pleasing. We were aggressive but when we got into the final third we were lacking that final pass.

‘I am really proud of the lads. It is hard to be at our best but we have come to Arsenal and lost 2-0 – that happens to many teams. There is no shame in that, I thought there were loads of good things.

‘Tonight was never going to define our season. Saturday, Bournemouth in the last 20 games are around fifth in the table so it won’t be easy, but our focus goes onto Saturday.’

Arsenal are next in action on Saturday against Brighton, while Luton will look to boost their survival hopes on the same day against Bournemouth.

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