Havertz having a huge impact, says Arsenal boss Arteta

LONDON: Kai Havertz has emerged as an unlikely key man in Arsenal's bid for their first Premier League title for 20 years, producing the kind of performances that made him one of Europe's most sought-after forwards - but that he lacked earlier this season.

The former Chelsea player looked like a square peg in a round hole in his first couple of months in an Arsenal shirt and took 10 appearances to mark his first goal.

But he is now proving to be the fulcrum in Arsenal's attack and scored his side's second goal in a 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion that sent them back to the top on Saturday.

It took his tally to 10 goals in all competitions for the Gunners, and the German will play a pivotal role in Arsenal's attempt to edge out Manchester City and Liverpool in the title race.

"He's certainly having a huge impact on the team. His overall performances have been really good and now his numbers for goal contributions are really high," manager Mikel Arteta told reporters. "He needs to maintain that.

"I think his understanding with the attacking players was superb. I think they had real purpose and connection and a lot of clarity on where to attack and we created many chances."

Havertz was voted man of the match at Brighton, a far cry from the beginning of the season when his role looked unclear and Arsenal's fans were slow to warm to him.

"Obviously he is in a very different moment. He has some fantastic players around him and we have tried to create the right environment for him," Arteta said of the 24-year-old.

"I think it's very important for any player, that they feel confident and we hopefully give him the love he needs. He has the admiration of the rest of the players and staff at the club and now the supporters of our club, for sure."

With some tough away games to come, including a trip to Tottenham Hotspur at the end of the month, Arsenal's form on the road gives cause for optimism.

They have not conceded in five away games and have scored 20 goals in those games, but the win at Brighton was especially impressive as the south coast side had not lost at home since August.

"This is a really, really tough place to come and win but also in the manner and the formula we have done it. Hopefully yes, we can carry on doing what we are doing," Arteta said.

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