Football

‘I had doubts’ – Arteta hails Saka’s ‘maturity’ and performance of Rice in West Ham thrashing

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta hailed Arsenal duo Bukayo Saka and Declan Rice after his side thrashed West Ham 6-0 at the London Stadium.

William Saliba opened the scoring for the Gunners before goals from Gabriel, Leandro Trossard, Declan Rice and two from Bukayo Saka secured a dominant victory over their London rivals.

Saka’s first goal came from the penalty spot before half-time and having missed a spot-kick in the same game last season, which ultimately proved costly to Arsenal’s title hopes, Arteta praised the character of the 22-year-old.

“At his age, the position and consistency normally don’t go in the same line,” he said.

“He’s proving everybody wrong that he can do it. I had doubts whether he was going to take the penalty or not because of what happened but it shows you as well how mature he is and how determined he is to go to the next level.”

As well as getting on the scoresheet, Rice also set up two of Arsenal’s goals against his former side and Arteta said he handled the emotion of the occasion well.

“I’m really happy with him,” Arteta said. “I know that it was an emotional day for him because he loves West Ham so much.

“But he had to focus on the task and what he had to deliver. Set pieces were one of those because when we have certain players on the pitch he is a better threat outside the box than inside the box.

“Then I was really pleased to see the class of the crowd to give him the reception he deserves.”

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