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Mikel Arteta hails home crowd and ‘changed’ Gabriel for dramatic comeback

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Mikel Arteta has praised the role that Arsenal’s fans played in their comeback win over Fulham at the Emirates on Saturday, with goals from Martin Odegaard and Gabriel pulling them past the hole dug for them by Alexandar Mitrovic’s second half opener.

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The Gunners struggled last season with coming from behind to win, especially in games they had the run of, but Arteta’s men came back strongly after Gabriel’s error handed them their first deficit of the season.

The Brazilian was caught in possession on the edge of his own box by Mitrovic, who robbed him before slotting home – a situation Arteta suggested in his post-match comments the defender shouldn’t have been placed in.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, he said: “I’m really happy with the performance, the attitude, and the mentality that the team showed. We were on top of the game, it was about being patient and the goal would come because we were deserving, but we had trouble with mistakes.

“We made an error, it cost us again, but the team showed that against adversity – Gabby individually, how he continued to play – and the unbelievable support we have in the stadium makes things much easier, and the team just has to win.”

He continued to praise the home crowd, continuing: “The reaction of everyone after the goal straight away, the reaction of the stadium, gives support to the player, belief, and then the player has to show courage to continue playing. It’s about how you respond, and I’m really pleased. The way he’s [Gabriel] changed mentally, the way he approaches every single day, it’s different to a year or two ago.

“He looks after himself every day. Football is the most important thing in his life apart from his daughter and his family. How consistent he is every day in his habits and how much he really wants to be one of the best.”

The result puts Arsenal back on top of the Premier League table after the afternoon’s earlier games, maintaining the league’s only 100% record after a lightning-fast start to the season.

“Playing in front of these supporters helps,” Arteta said, “because they’re driving you as well, and then it’s about belief. A lot of it is about belief and confidence that you can do it, and now we have that belief.

“I don’t know a top team, winning team, that doesn’t have that connection with the club and their supporters. I had a person here today I really like, love I would say, who I haven’t seen for a while. It’s the first time he’s been at the stadium in two years, he says it [the atmosphere] was the best he’s seen it in years, since Highbury.”

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