Declan Rice curled in a last-second winner to seal a 4-3 win over Luton Town in a classic encounter.
Our first game against the Hatters since 1991 was a memorable one and early goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Ocho looked to send both teams level at the break but Gabriel Jesus put us back in front just before half time.
Within 10 minutes of the second half, goals from Elijah Adebayo and Ross Barkley put the hosts ahead, but we only trailed for three minutes after Kai Havertz equalized again just before the hour mark.
As the six minutes of stoppage time ticked by, it looked as if we would have to settle for a point, but we once again managed to score a late goal through Rice’s lightning header to snatch the three points.
Incredibly looking at the final score, the game took a while to warm up and it took 20 minutes for the first try to be created – but fortunately for us, it was a try that we conceded.
This stemmed from an error by Hatters goalkeeper Tomas Kaminski who struggled to deal with a back pass and elected to play it safe and put the ball out of play. However, instead of putting it on the runway, he quietly played it on the billboards, and we took advantage.
Some quick thinking and a quick throw from Jesus found Bukayo Saka who raced into the box and cut the ball back for Martinelli to slot neatly into the bottom corner and finally breathe life into the encounter.
Then it exploded into life four minutes later, but this time it was the hosts who were celebrating. Luton won a corner and they showed their prowess from set-pieces when Alfie Doughty sent a pass into the area, and Osho was able to turn it past David Raya to restore parity.
Jesus at the last minute
As the half progressed we began to rise to the physical challenge presented by Rob Edwards’ side, and began to find ourselves in the final third more often. Martinelli and Saka both had powerful shots on target that Kaminski was able to keep out, but just as it looked like both teams were going into the break, we scored again in the final minute of the first half.
Ben White collected the ball on the right side and used his excellent link-up skills with Saka to play a one-two with the striker and overlook the defence, clipping a cross into the box that was perfect for Jesus to make a powerful run. He sent it into the net to change the focus of Arteta’s team’s talk.
Hat makers are at the top
The second half started in nightmarish fashion for us as we saw the game quickly turn on its head. Just three minutes after the break, Lightning struck twice after Andros Townsend saw a shot deflected wide for a corner, Doughty crossed and this time Adebayo stepped in front of Raya to head home and frustrate us once again.
The home fans were on their toes and were urging their team on, which inspired Barkley to go eight minutes behind and find his former England team-mate Townsend, who, after twisting and turning but unable to create a shooting chance, played the ball back to the former Everton man who fired a low shot that slid in. under Raya and sent the Kenilworth Road into disarray as they advanced.
The transformation is complete
Shocked by the quick turnaround, we could have been forgiven for taking time to regroup, but instead we went straight to the other end and made it 3-3 just before the hour mark. Jesus controlled a high ball from Saka inside the box and showed strength to hold onto the ball, slotting it into the path of the onrushing Havertz to beat Kaminski and score his third goal in the last four games.
From that point on, it was one-way traffic as we pressed forward again. Martin Odegaard saw a long-distance shot go straight at Kaminski and then the lively Leandro Trossard’s shot deflected wide after coming off the bench.
It seemed that Havertz might win the goal late when he headed Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross, but Kaminsky cleared it over the crossbar late on, but the goal would come seconds before the end of the match.
In the final attack, we threw bodies forward and Zinchenko passed Odegaard who delivered a perfect cross for Rice to pass past his marker and into the far post to send his teammates, players and players into ecstasy as we recorded our first win of the tournament. The place has been around since 1984 – and it was worth the wait.
Facts and statistics
Bukayo Saka’s assist in Gabriel Martinelli’s opener was his 11th of the season in all competitions, more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues.
Declan Rice’s winner at 96:23 was our last scored winner (since 2006/07) in an away Premier League match. It also ended a 10-match winless run away to Luton in all competitions, earning our first win at Kenilworth Road since 1984.
We touched 52 balls in the opposition penalty area against Luton this evening, our highest number in an away Premier League match since September 2016 (55 vs Hull City).
Rice is the third different Arsenal player to score two 90th-minute winners in a single Premier League season, after Ian Wright (1993/94 and 1995-96) and Nicklas Bendtner (2009/10).
Kai Havertz has scored three goals in his last four matches in all competitions, the same number he has scored in his previous 32 club appearances combined.
Gabriel Jesus has been involved in six goals in his last five matches in all competitions, scoring and assisting in three different matches this round.
We return to Premier League action on Saturday when we take on Aston Villa at Villa Park, before wrapping up the Champions League group stage with a trip to PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday 12 December.
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