Mikel Arteta says he takes responsibility for Arsenal’s failings on the pitch but he couldn’t hide his frustration with the way his players threw away a lead to lost 2-1 at Brighton.
The Spaniard was noticeably irked when he faced the media after the match, just minutes after Neal Maupay had secured a last-gasp win in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
That it was the French striker who secured victory for the home side was a particularly bitter pill to swallow given he’d been responsible for Bernd Leno suffering a serious injury in the first half.
Nicolas Pepe’s strike on 65 minutes laid the groundwork for a hard-fought win but familiar failings at the back meant the lead lasted just seven minutes, Lewis Dunk bundling home a set piece from close range. A point would have been frustrating; the late defeat – a second in the space of three days – was infuriating.
“Obviously after a defeat [at City] you want to put the next result straight away to winning,” Arteta told Arsenal.com.
“I think we did a lot of things today to win the game comfortably, but we haven’t competed like you have to compete in the Premier League.
“We gave first goal away and we lost a few important duels afterwards, so I think it’s all our fault.”
Asked if there are concerns about the character of his players, Arteta chose instead to blame an inability to ‘compete’ for entire matches.
“Not about the characters, it’s about how you compete in a Premier League match and it’s for 100 minutes in this case,” he said.
“It’s for every ball, it’s for every action and the moment you lose attention, the opponent is going to push you.
“It’s not the first time it has happened and if you want to win football games consistently at this level, it’s a must and it’s a non-negotiable.”
He added: “I think they competed for large parts of the game, but in crucial moments when you don’t, you pay the price and that’s it. It’s all my fault obviously because I’m the one that has to make sure they do.”
The boss also admitted it’ll be hard to pick up his players ahead of Thursday’s trip to Southampton.
“Absolutely [it will be hard to do]. I think when you lose two games in a row that hardest thing to do is to lift the players up and believe again in what we are doing.
“The context of the last game against Man City and this one is completely different. I am much more upset today because I know the accident that happened against City but the accident today was provoked by us and it’s unacceptable.”