Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta praised Eddie Nketiah for his "incredible" display against West Ham after the striker made the most of his first Premier League start of the season with a goal in the 3-1 victory at Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
Nketiah ended last season in fine form, scoring five goals in the final seven matches, but the 23-year-old has had to contend with a place among the substitutes for much of this campaign following the arrival, and fine form, of Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazilian's knee injury during the World Cup and expected three-month recovery time from surgery has given Nketiah a chance in Arsenal's starting line-up, and the English forward delivered by scoring his side's third goal. After falling behind to Said Benrahama's 27th-minute penalty, Bukayo Saka pulled Arsenal level early in the second half, before Gabriel Martinelli earned the hosts the lead five minutes later.
“It was a great goal but I think overall his performance was incredible,” Arteta said of Nketiah. “The way he understood the pressing, his intensity, the way he counter-attacked certain spaces, the composure he showed. And then he stayed patient. And in the box he produced a moment of real quality to win us the game.”
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard delivered another superb performance, the Norwegian midfielder assisting two of the goals to continue his impressive form this season.
Odegaard, along with Nketiah and other Arsenal players absent from the World Cup, was part of the squad in the UAE earlier this month to take part in the Dubai Super Cup, and Arteta lauded his captain's leadership.
“He was great. Since back in Dubai when we were there, he’s been exceptional," the Spaniard said. "That’s what you want from your leaders, with the important players to have that presence on the pitch. With and without the ball I think he was really good today.”
While the result moves Arsenal seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table – with Manchester City aiming to close the gap to five when they face Leeds United on Wednesday night – it was West Ham's 10th defeat of the season and fourth in a row.
Arsenal v West Ham player ratings
The Hammers, who finished seventh last season, are down in 16th place, and manager David Moyes has called on his players to stand up and be counted.
"The manager is always responsible, but I've got to say, sometimes you’re looking at the players and saying ‘come on then, are you going to stand up and accept your mistake and what are you doing about it so it won’t happen again?’" Moyes said.
"So, we've got to make sure that we get back to that, being hard to play against and hard to beat, a bit more resilient away from home, because we have to start winning some games away from home."
West Ham are back in action on Friday with a home match against Brentford, while Arsenal travel to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.