Mikel Arteta says he can’t put his finger on why Arsenal were so bad against Aston Villa but he was aware from the moment the game kicked off that his players weren’t at the races.
The Gunners entered the game off the back of a heartening win over Manchester United and with the best defensive record in the league but were repeatedly torn to shreds by the visitors who ran out deserved 3-0 winners courtesy of Bukayo Saka’s own goal and Ollie Watkins brace.
After the game, the boss took responsibility for the result claiming it was the first time since he took over that he noticed a drop in the standards he expects.
“I don’t feel like we were the team we’re supposed to be,” he told his post-game press conference.
“We performed below our standards, our ability and I didn’t see the spirit for the first time that I have seen every day in training and every day when we compete.
“This is totally my fault, it is why I am here, I am responsible for that, to make sure the team performs and competes at the highest level every three days. Today I haven’t done that, so obviously it is my fault.
“It is very tough to find the reasons [for the performance]. I cannot say I have seen a change or this week that we have trained a different way. I would be lying if I said that. But obviously there was something there today that [Villa] wanted much more than us, and they showed it.
“At the end of the day, if you are late in ever decision you make, if you don’t win enough duels, if every second ball isn’t for us, you don’t show the quality with the ball, you cannot defend your box, and when you get chances you don’t even hit the target, it is a really complicated way to win football matches.”
It’s now six hours and 26 minutes since Arsenal scored from open play in the Premier League (stat via @Orbinho) and the lack of creativity in the final third is becoming a serious issue for the Spaniard to solve.
“That is something we have to improve on, to create as well,” he said.
“We need to be more ruthless, but again I wouldn’t like to [point at] anybody – today wasn’t about that, it was about how we went about the job and who we were as a team and what we were transmitting as a team.
“I didn’t like it from the first whistle, we conceded on a mistake and got away with the goal on VAR and afterwards it was just not good enough.”