Mikel Arteta says Arsenal are committed to playing out from the back but admits his players still have room for improvement when it comes to their decision making on the ball in and around their own box.
Under the Spaniard’s watch, the Gunners have looked increasingly confident retaining possession in deep areas, implementing the tactic to great effect, even against top-quality opposition. However, last night’s 2-1 win over Rapid Vienna offered a timely reminder of the work that still needs to be done.
With the scores at 0-0, Bernd Leno, receiving a ball from David Luiz close to goal, attempted a risky pass to Gabriel that was intercepted and the home side promptly buried the ball in the back of the net.
Given we ground out a win, it didn’t matter too much and meant Arteta wasn’t overly critical of the mistake.
“It is part of our game,” the boss said of the tactic. “We need [to learn] where we can do it and when we should kick the ball to the stand, which is a big part of what we are trying to do, but to recognise that from the outside is much easier than from the inside.
“He (Leno) has the courage to do that, we have been very successful at doing it as well with the amount of goals we have scored even in important games, so we have to find the right balance but I will keep encouraging them to do it in the right moments.
On whether last night’s error was a result of playing such a high-risk game, he added: “Yes, absolutely but they will understand better and better the type of balls that we have to play in those areas and in relation to where the pressure is coming, and the distances that you can manage from the opponent.
“After that everything will be better, but obviously in a split second you have to make a decision, you have to get the right touch, the right pass and as well the opponent is waiting for that so again it is something we have to keep working on because if we want to play in the way that I want to, it is necessary that we keep doing nit in our build up play.”