Arsenal eased the pressure on under-fire manager Mikel Arteta and earned their first Premier League win of the season after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sank Norwich 1-0 on Saturday.
The Gunners captain’s 66th-minute winner released the tension that had been bubbling up inside the Emirates Stadium and lifted his team off the foot of the table.
Arteta — who had reportedly been given four games to save his job after Arsenal’s worst start to a league campaign for 67 years — revealed the international break was among the most instructive periods of his career.
“We had to suffer but I knew to win the game it would be like this. After three defeats things get complicated,” he told the BBC.
“I must say it has been the best 10 or 14 days in my professional career — not the easiest, but the best.
“You learn a lot in difficult moments. In difficult moments when you see the people and the level of organisation and the fans we have,” he added.
“They were ready to suffer today but they just give, give, give to the team. Today and the last week everything glided together.”
Arsenal entered the match bottom of the table, below 19th-placed Norwich by virtue of goals scored after slumping to three back-to-back defeats and scoring no goals before the international break.
A coronavirus outbreak and injuries to key players including Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Martin Odegaard had compounded Arteta’s woes.
A disappointing start to the season came despite being the Premier League’s highest spenders in the summer transfer window, forking out almost £150 million ($208 million).
Arsenal have not competed in the Champions League since 2017 and last season failed to qualify for Europe for the first time since 1996.