Mikel Arteta was delighted with the performance of Jakub Kiwior in Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Chelsea.
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The January signing from Spezia has been restricted to a bit-part role during his time in England, but was handed a first Premier League start by his manager who rang the changes for a critical London derby.
Rob Holding has failed to impress in the absence of William Saliba and, in the midst of a four-game run without a win, Arteta felt it was time to give the Poland international his chance.
Tasked with marking former Arsenal skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, back at the Emirates for the first time since his acrimonious departure, Kiwior snuffed out the experienced striker who suffered the ignominy of being subbed at half-time.
Kiwior finished the game alongside Holding as a result of a Gabriel injury scare and was denied a clean sheet by Noni Madueke’s first goal for Chelsea in the 65th minute.
Arsenal did, however, hold on and secure three points that took them, temporarily at least, back to the summit and Arteta was enthused by Kiwior’s display, as well as that of Jorginho who replaced Thomas Partey in the Gunners’ engine room.
He said: ‘Yes (I was pleased), especially Jakub, it was a big task for him he hasn’t played in the Premier League yet and to throw him in against top class players was a big ask.
‘But we believe he is ready and his partnership with Gabi worked out really well. I think also Jorginho gave us a little bit of control in midfield and I’m really pleased with them.’
On the performance of his side in general, meanwhile, Arteta added: ‘The first 60 minutes, I thought the team played really well, we need to be us, and that was everything I want to see from our team.
‘Speed, quality, movement, two beautiful goals, we connected with our crowd and created an incredible atmosphere.
‘They have been incredibly supportive of what we have done and we wanted to earn the right to be top of the league. We are, and happy to be there.’
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