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Mikel Arteta applauds Arsenal after rotation pays off against Luton

Mikel Arteta hailed Arsenal’s fringe players for taking their chances in the 2-0 Premier League victory over Luton.

Captain Martin Odegaard opened the scoring before Daiki Hashioka turned the ball into his own net as Arsenal returned to the top of the table, holding a one-point advantage over Liverpool and Manchester City.

Arsenal had just three days to prepare for Wednesday night’s game after Sunday’s goalless draw at title rivals City.

Arteta made five changes for the visit of the Hatters, including the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson while resting Declan Rice among others, and was pleased with what he saw in their first of eight scheduled fixtures in April.

“They responded really well and I’m so happy with that. It was a wonderful game,” Arteta said.

“When they get their moment, they have to take it and they certainly did today. They give me every reason (to pick them) every day.

“If we had lost the game it would’ve been because we made the changes and it’s not as simple as that. You have to do what is right, what they deserve and it’s good confidence.”

With Bukayo Saka injured, Smith Rowe impressed after he was recalled to the XI.

Arteta said: “I love him as a player (Smith Rowe). It’s a joy to watch him with the way he moves and how physical he is as well. He helped us a lot to win the game also today.”

Odegaard was the difference between the sides on the night. The Norwegian combined with Kai Havertz after 24 minutes before rifling an effort into Thomas Kaminski’s bottom left corner.

Arteta talked up the skipper’s influence in helping his side try and claim their first league title since the 2003-04 season.

Martin Odegaard fires Arsenal into the lead
Martin Odegaard fires Arsenal into the lead (Nick Potts/PA)

The Spaniard added: “He’s a really important player and we needed that balance and the chemistry certain players have and how they train, build relationships, Martin is vital to connect. The standard which he sets is outstanding.”

Luton manager Rob Edwards still believes his side can get out of trouble, with the Hatters 18th and three points behind fourth-bottom Nottingham Forest.

Edwards said: “I believe we can do this, with every fibre of my being I believe in this group. We are competing in this league, we have had a lot of injuries and it has knocked our rhythm. We’re in the games we’re playing. We weren’t out of it.”