Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal’s struggle in a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in the season opener, but admitted that much more was needed from their forwards.
The Gunners left with all three points at Selhurst Park thanks to a header from Gabriel Martinelli in the first half and an own goal from Marc Guehi in the end.
Arsenal dominated the first exchanges, but the eagles challenged Arteta’s team after the restart as the visitors failed to create second-half chances on Gabriel Jesus’ official debut.
“We need to be more relentless in front of goal,” Arteta said.
“We had a situation to finish them better, even in the second half, but this is something that has to happen. We didn’t score many goals, we lacked that real advantage.”
Still, the Gunners’ manager was pleased with his team’s overall effort, a marked improvement from their 2-0 loss to Brentford earlier in the season.
Martinelli almost put Arsenal on the scoresheet early in the first half when the ball landed at his feet on the edge of the six-yard box, but the Brazilian’s shot went just wide of the goal.
Redemption followed after he climbed higher to nod his head in the opener in the face of a packed goal in the 20th minute.
Some had expected this to be the start of Jesus in the spotlight, but it was fellow rookie William Saliba who shone the brightest in a brilliant comeback in defence, frustrating attempt after attempt by the eagles to create opportunities.
“You don’t really see that,” said his impressed boss.
“At 21 in the Premier League, against these physical players and resolve the situation the way he did, with that composure, that calm and that presence. Big credit to the boy.”
The game was decided when Bukayo Saka’s cross in the 85th minute hit the unfortunate Guehi in the head.
Arteta was delighted to emerge victorious under the intimidating lights of Friday night at Selhurst Park, looking like a very different side to the one that fell to the Eagles 3-0 in their last meeting in south London.
“I’m very satisfied,” he added. “Three points and a clean sheet against a very difficult opponent and a very difficult place when they have people going, and as we expected, we would have difficult periods during the match.
“You don’t win here without resilience. We experienced that last season, we started in a very different way than we did last season when we were here.
“It’s building that mindset and finding a way to get through those moments, not conceding in this league, it’s going to be vital to our success, so I hope that builds some confidence in the team.
Meanwhile, Eagles coach Patrick Vieira mourned the one who escaped.
The hosts’ best chance came from Eberechi Eze, who found himself one-on-one after receiving a precise pass from Wilfried Zaha, but failed.
“Today I think the biggest difference is that we didn’t take this chance or those chances that we created to at least get a point tonight,” said Vieira.
“We had a good time at times, but the story of the game is that we didn’t score that goal to get back into the game. That’s what frustration is about today.”
Earlier this week, the Palace manager admitted he was “under numbers” and saw gaps across the pitch.
Whether or not solutions come from the transfer window or from within, he said, all comes down to the coffers – which will be boosted by Christian Benteke’s departure to DC United shortly before Friday’s game.
“We are always looking to improve the team,” added Vieira. “If we find the right players with the right budget, we will try to do it.
“If not, there are players here who will grow during the season, players who are prepared to work hard for the club, and we have to keep challenging those players.”