LONDON – Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno has revealed Jesse Lingard’s extravagant goal celebrations at the Gunners’ expense inspired their revenge victory over Manchester United.
Lingard infuriated Arsenal’s players when he launched into a ‘moon-walk’ in front of the home supporters to mark his goal in United’s 3-1 FA Cup fourth-round win at the Emirates Stadium in January.
The United winger’s flamboyant celebration was perceived as taunting, and Arsenal were determined to get their own back when Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s side returned to north London on Sunday.
Lingard, who also scored twice in the league clash at Arsenal last season, irked fans by posting his recent celebration on Instagram with the location set as a “dancefloor”.
But Granit Xhaka’s opener and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty gave Arsenal the 2-0 win they craved at the weekend, ending Solskjaer’s unbeaten domestic streak since taking charge at Old Trafford in December.
Making it even sweeter, Arsenal climbed above United into fourth place in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil referenced Lingard in a post-match tweet on Sunday, which read: “Dancefloor huh?! Superb performance! Brilliant result! Thank you Emirates Stadium! Proud to be a Gunner!”
Lingard missed the game as he nurses a hamstring injury, but Leno admitted the England star’s antics had spurred on Unai Emery’s team.
“In your mind, you will never forget something like that, when somebody is celebrating,” Leno said.
“You don’t want to see it again, so we were motivated, and we knew before the game about our chance, because Man United had one more point than us.
“Now we have a two-point lead, and that was enough motivation for us. We are in the top four, and the other teams now wait for our mistakes.
“We don’t play against the other top six teams, so I think we can beat the others,” the goalkeeper added.
“The next game is against Newcastle at home, and it is an opportunity to win and stay in the top four.”