Mikel Arteta hopes Arsene Wenger’s first trip to the Emirates since leaving the club in 2018 will be the first of many future visits by the former Arsenal boss.
Wenger’s appearance wraps up a spectacular Christmas Eve for loyal Shooters as they watch their side complete a 3-1 comeback to beat tough West Ham.
“There’s only one Arsene Wenger”, Gabriel Martinelli swept out of the stands after equalizing the all-time record by leading the hosts to their 10th straight win in the second half.
“No, the players didn’t know,” said the current Gunners boss, himself exhilarated with his own hymn.
“We wanted to keep him quiet and provide this space for Arsene. It’s a very special day, thank you very much for coming.
“I hope he will feel everything he left here as he walks through the building. His presence is something that has to be very, very connected to this football club so thank him for doing it because it means so much to everyone at this club.
“I was involved in the process of bringing him in but it’s about him, the timing it takes to take that step, and I hope he’ll leave and be willing to spend more time with us and be around us because he’s such an influence. For me personally, in my career, in terms of the way I look at the game but the same also for this football club.”
Arsenal threatened with 72 percent of possession throughout the first half, but were frustrated as the only goal at the time-out was Said Benrahma’s spot.
The Gunners regrouped and Bukayo Saka hit the equalizer eight minutes after the restart, before Martinelli kicked Arsenal ahead.
Making his Arsenal debut for the injured Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah enjoyed the vocal support of the Emirates audience from the kick-off, and they were rewarded when Martin Odegaard tipped the ball to the 23-year-old. He circled neatly around his pointer before shooting into the bottom corner as the overjoyed fans called his name.
Arteta had yet to speak to his predecessor when addressing the media, conceding that the victory that took his side’s Premier League lead to seven points was an ideal conversation starter.
“Obviously it’s great,” he added. “Winning, my mood, talking to him and being with the team will be much better.
“So yeah, he picked the right moment, it’s a really special day because Boxing Day is a good day to play football and I thought the performance was at the level we deserve today and I hope he enjoys it.”
West Ham boss David Moyes expressed disappointment after a “soft” showdown in the second half at the Emirates.
“We showed some confidence and we were determined in the first half.
“We actually did things where we were pretty good, and we did things over the last few years that could be tough and hard to beat. We did that but we didn’t do it in the second half.
Arsenal played well in the first half, they probably played well in the first half as well as in the second, but in the second half we softened and gave them a chance to score.”