Mikel Arteta says David Luiz’s injury and the onset of fatigue were both factors that contributed to Arsenal’s poor second half in the 1-0 defeat to Leicester.
The Brazilian played an important role controlling the tempo of the Gunners’ play in the opening 45 minutes often encouraging his teammates forward by spraying long diagonal passes that pinned back the visitors.
Despite creating a number of decent opportunities early on, Arsenal paid for a lack of ruthlessness in the box and were found wanting when Luiz went off with a thigh injury on 48 minutes.
Having weathered the storm, the visitors sealed all three points late in the game with a thoroughly predictable Jamie Vardy sucker punch.
It made for frustrating viewing. Afterwards, Arteta was asked about a lack of aggression in the second half.
He responded: “I think fatigue had a say as well. We didn’t look as sharp on the ball. We didn’t have as much purpose on the ball to create.
“Obviously, David was giving us something different when we had to attack the low block with his ability to attack the line and provoke, always threatening in behind. We lacked that a little bit in the second half.
“Still, credit to them, they are really organised when they do that. It is really difficult to create the chances. We created a really good one with Hector [Bellerin’s volley] again and we didn’t convert.
“That’s the difference at the end, in the box, what we are able to do. Certainly, it’s an aspect that we have to improve.”
Having lost Rob Holding to a hamstring problem last week, the Gunners look short of options at centre-back; a quite remarkable state of affairs given the number we have on the books. While Shkodran Mustafi made his first appearance of the season last night, Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari are still working their way back from injury, William Saliba is seemingly out of favour and Sokratis hasn’t been registered.
“I don’t know [when he’ll be back],” said Arteta about Luiz. “We’ve lost a few players in the last week or so. David had a muscular problem and he couldn’t carry on – we’ll have to assess him in the next 48 hours.”