Arteta: We put ourselves on the back foot

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Mikel Arteta was left frustrated by Slavia Prague’s stoppage time equaliser as the visitors, outplayed for most of the game, snatched a 1-1 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates. 

Nicolas Pepe, on as a sub, had given the Gunners the lead with four minutes remaining but the Gunners couldn’t hold onto a first leg advantage on a night when they squandered a number of big chances. 

After the game, the boss faced the BT Sport cameras. Here’s what he had to say…

On failing to see out the game…

The game is under control. We got the goal that we wanted after we missed some big, big chances as well, I must say. But then we played two or three balls in certain areas that we should not do. We put ourselves on the back foot and we concede the corner and from there, they put a lot of bodies in there and anything can happen. Obviously, it changes a lot the feeling after the game. 

On whether he should have made his substitutions earlier…

No, we know we have the possibility to change things with the five subs. We believe it was the right time with the set-up that they had. It was the right moment to do it and they had a big impact. When you’re in this competition, the subs have a lot to say and they made an impact that we need. Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalise at the end with the result that we wanted. 

On a difficult first half…

It’s difficult because they are a really good opponent. They’ve beaten some big teams and they are really difficult to play against. The way they do it is a lot of duels, a lot of man-to-man situations and you have to be able to resolve them. When we were able to do that we created big chances. When we didn’t the game was a little bit stuck and its not easy to clean it in every situation because it’s a lot of duels. 

On a lack of cohesion…

I thought we were very effective in our high press, we regained a lot of balls there. It’s true that they have the capacity in the duels if they win it [the ball], to run in transition but I think we controlled that pretty well. We didn’t have a lot of problems in the first half. As I said, it’s more about the final result that leaves a difficult taste. 

On what needs to change…

We need to win the game. The mindset is to go there and win the game, for sure. We need to score, we know that. We’ve done it in the past and i’m sure we’re able to do it again 

On Slavia’s celebrations…

I just worry about our players and the things we have to do.

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SB Still

Its only when forced the Manager benchs players like Willian and plays youngsters. Similarly, the team only plays when they have their backs to their walls. When expected to dominate neither can do it.

lessthanthesumoftheirparts

Arteta has got these last two games all wrong. Seemingly prioritising the league for no good reason. Completely opposite lineups, the wrong teams for the wrong games. Auba and Pepe tracking back against Liverpool? You’d rather Willian did that and tried to keep possession wouldn’t you. Then slow, sluggish Lacazette nowhere to be seen tonight over Aubameyang and Pepe in behind against their makeshift defence? It’s just terrible, it’s uselessly poor management. I can accept mistakes but not when the answers are staring everyone in the face. Simple player selections and substitutions are so blindingly screwed up week after week.… Read more »

TUMANG

He should be so lucky the stadiums are empty

efeli

Our EL hopes have become something similar to a terminally ill relative.
You are happy that they’re still there and live to fight another day but deep down you also know that it is a false hope and it will end soon.
In the end you are sad but also have a little bit of relief that the pain is over.

Johnny 4 Hats

Wow. And I didn’t think I could be anymore depressed.

Johnny 4 Hats

I just listened to Auclair on the podcast.

My depression is now catatonic.

Alex

So so dark 😂

Jill

Can he just stfu at this point. Meaningless rubbish.

CLEGooner

He’s literally up against a wall with a microphone in his face. Im pretty sure he’d be fined if he refused to talk.

Hank Scorpio

True but it’s all platitudes

Spanish Gooner

Fuck off man this is on you

Johnny 4 Hats

You know it’s bad when fellow countrymen turn on you…

Canadagoon

Really…you don’t think it’s on Laca, Saka etc. missing massive opportunities my grandad could finish?

Public Elneny

When the most of the squad is out of off form all at once, it’s always on the manager

Spanish Gooner

Lacazette has been poor for 4 years and has never hit 15 goals, nor has he ever been an energetic pressing forward, a target man, or a creative presence. His contract also ends in just over 12 months. If you decide to play him in a key knockout game despite all this when you have Aubameyang and Martinelli on the bench, then yes – it’s very much still on Arteta. Saka has been excellent this year, but he looked off all day today and Arteta waited until the last 15 minutes to take him off, despite having Pepe on the… Read more »

loose_cannon

I get keeping Saka on because, miss aside, he was the only one beating his man and creating anything. But otherwise agree, baffling that he’d bench Aubameyang and Martinelli for Lacazette and Willian against a high line team.

KT S'happnin Team

Poor for 4 years, yet no doubt deserving of our POTY a couple of seasons back if you try hard enough to remember. Adjectify what he isn’t to justify your point, even though any crucial input Laca has had will always be lost under the radar of ” he’s benching-auba”ism. Give us some terms as to what Auba can’t do while the nuances of each striker are being verbalised then. Of course it wasn’t Laca’s best game, he should have scored, but as usual the writing off of a player with the virtue of hindsight in order to blame MA… Read more »

Var Will Solve The Problem

What do you want him to do? There were enough chances to kill off the game or keep the clean sheet at the end. I think Leno needs to have a serious competition starting next year. He is not too comfortable with the ball. Gabriel was an one man defense by himself

Andygooner

I just want to see the kids play. I want to see people who care about the shirt on the pitch. We lose and it sucks. But god, at least we could say they tried. It honestly seems like you get punished more for turning up late to a bus than not-trying on the pitch. (Which by the way, surprise surprise, seems to make you not care on the pitch.) Reiss Nelson, Maitland Niles and Joe Willock cared. Martinelli seems to care. Saka and Smith Rowe — I enjoy watching them all because they give a shit. And when passes… Read more »

matt keeler

Arteta needs to make subs much earlier.

Arteta needs to persist with Auba through middle and build team around that.

Partey was woeful tonight.

Willian is depriving Nelson of his chance at Arsenal

KongoKim

Yes.
No. Except you have an back-up to Auba who plays the excact same role.
Yes.
Maybe. Nelson feels a bit like Campell at that time. Everybody wanted to see him play because our wings were underperforming. People were calling Wenger stubborn for not playing him, when in fact Campell was just not good enough.

GABBI

You’re high Campbell whenever he’s played for Arsenal was actually good fans calling for him to play was no coincidence he’s better than this lot, better than Willian and Pepe and Nelson. The only mistake he made was leave on loan after he had a good season with arsenal for the first time and he wanted guarantees to play more and Wenger told him to stay not go on loan but he was impatient. The moment he went on that last loan that was the end for him because Wenger left and when he came back Emery got rid of… Read more »

KongoKim

Yes i am but still Campbell signed for Frosinone and now playing in the mexican league with the age of 28.

Public Elneny

I think Auba is great at CF in games where we dominate possession and territory. Today was always going to be one of those games so he should have started there

Games where it’s harder to move into the final 3rd, you need a CF who can protect the ball and play in tight spaces better than Auba can. Lacazette is nothing special either but he is a bit better than Auba in that regard

BelgianGunner

But Willian gets many chances to prove he is not good enough. Nelson can’t.

Dave

Nelson. Lol.

Goonerink

How can he be so categorical on his response to the subs being too late?

they changed the game.

Goonerink

Also effective highpress?
the keeper looked like he had a fractured foot not skull when slightly pressed, we did not press well….

Urs Seiler

It’s called saving your skin. Stubborn as anything.

Vlad

Spot on

Jack

Sleep paralysis but instead of a demon, it’s replays of that Lacazette miss when he’s 1 on 1 with the keeper

Spanish Gooner

Did anybody actually think he’d score? The man was running like he’d eaten 12 creme eggs at half time

Wiltoooooooooord !!!

True … Moment after the ball left his foot, I didn’t expect it to even hit the woodwork

Vlad

Similar to Auba miss vs Greeks. Unacceptable to miss one on one at this level. Bottlers

Alex

Full. Of. Shit. Sir.

GABBI

Threw away the FA cup, Didn’t give youth a chance until Willian and Pepe got injured and suspended if ti went for that we would be in relegation. Keeps Martinelli on the bench. That Laca chance Martinelli would score. the one time Willian was playing half decent he takes off willian and out on Martinelli when he should’ve taken off Laca and put on Martinelli through the middle. Clueless. How he’s handled some of the youngsters like Martinelli Saliba Nelson poor poor man management. Poor poor game set ups Sold the wrong keeper doesnt have an eye for talent to… Read more »

Vlad

He clearly lacks managerial experience on that level. The club is too big for his experiments. So called « project » is failing and so is the manager. 8 months down the drain now and CL target is fading away. Probably he should have courage to leave unless we het to the next EL round and admit that the job was above his grade yet. That would save him a face and still better than a sack. Meantime good luck in reverse fixture ( and beware of Sheffield:-)

RockyRog58

No true footballer speaks of transitions moments and shit like that they just play with heart for a manager and club they believe in ! Not now though ! Arteta is an overcoach so in this moment he has the players confused and unambitious hence mid table Step away Lego heed boy you ain’t anywhere near good enough for the Arsenal

Alex Nagy

He needs to have the balls to take a risk and start Martinelli.

One of our best performances this season was against Chelsea around Christmas, we were in an awful run of form and he made many changes bringing in Smith-Rowe, Saka on the right, Martinelli on the left, it was probably one of our best games this season and we haven’t seen it since.

Baichung Bhutia

Agree, think Arteta is just a very conservative coach – more Moyes than Pep. Think the game plan was not to concede for an hour and then attack, hence playing Willian, not using subs etc.

Hank Scorpio

Whereas we should have been far more aggressive in pursuing a decent sized win from the start. Especially given the players they had missing. Mind you, the team selections suggested safety first.

Mic

Playing Martinelli isn’t even a risk though. It’s our best potential to dominate and Arteta is afraid to dominate games because his best management happens when we’re playing a back 3 and scoring on the counter. But he doesn’t want to play that way either.

Alex

The subs made such a massive impact it was embarrassing.

What’s the point in highlighting the “big big chances” that the players missed? They also created them, not the manager, if that’s the thinking we’re going to use.

Arteta has everyone WAY too uptight to enjoy and win a game of football.

Enjoyment has to come back to it.

Arteta is not the one, it would be clear by now.

SarcasmB0t

Apologetic bullshit.

The starting eleven wasn’t remotely in control of the game and rarely looked like scoring.

He puts on the substitutes, we immediately put them under pressure and score.

Yeah, maybe putting them on earlier would have been a good idea – but what do I know, I’m not the guy who’s gotten Arsenal to 10th in the league.

Badaab

emery’s arrogance and pep’s vocabulary

Moviegooner

Most of the comments above me are a disgrace. I get the frustration I broke my desk chair when they scored. But have some respect. Plus its not even Arteta’s fault. The players had five clear cut chances and failed. They are only to blame.

SarcasmB0t

Where’s your respect for the players then?

The commenters above you realize that it is the manager’s job to realize players he’s selected are having a bad game and make changes.

Arteta didn’t do that until the 78th minute, that’s why he’s criticized.

db10s

Maybe our problems are more towards the players then the manager. We’ve had Wenger, Unai and now Mikel facing similar issues – lack of effort.

I thought it was evident the minute we lost the more senior pros in the team Ramsey, Nacho and Kos. The discipline, pride and adherence to tactics slowly disappeared from the team.

SarcasmB0t

I don’t think our performance was due to a lack of effort.
You can fault Lava for a lot of things, but lack of effort isn’t one of them.

The reason we struggled against Slavia was that our attack was ponderous and didn’t press enough.

But that’s bound to happen when you select your two slowest attackers.

It’s not that they didn’t care, it’s that they didn’t fit.

db10s

You’re not wrong about the game vs Slavia but I was remembering Wenger’s final season, the end of Unai’s run and games we lost badly this season.

It’s such a contrast in terms of effort and pride when you look at how we played against Spurs and all the games we played after that (minus the West ham 2nd half performance)

Qwaliteee

Blame the monster rather than Frankenstein.

Very logical….

Mentalista

Still defending his every move. He basically never does anything wrong, does he? Such humility for a man in his first job.

SarcasmB0t

The young these days really are full of themselves, aren’t they?

Broccoli_rob

It’s I’m tired of this man
Not,
I’m tired of this, man.

truj

What is the point to rate the players now? Rate the coaching and the manager!

Joseph Kawooya

Not Ceballos I guess

Yemi

Supporting Arsenal must be the most difficult and enduring thing ever.

Hank Scorpio

It wasn’t always like this.

Man Manny

Your persistence with Willian is casting a big shadow on you, dear Arteta.
Anything beyond a win next week would make your position untenable for me.

DPK

The only positive………Arteta played the wrong team (this was not the game for Cedric at LB, or Laca ahead of Auba, or Willian*) , we played poorly/timidly (take your pick), we took way top long to bring on subs, we missed some really simple chances, we gave away an unbelievably stupid goal late on (not just the corner itself – how ended up giving away a corner in the last minute from the position we were in is beyond me) ……and yet we still drew ! Let’s be honest, the Europa League is a second tier competition for a reason.… Read more »

Once a gunner

Arteta should have changed by 60 minutes and put in Martineli, Auba for Lacazette and Willian probably Pepe for Saka too in this game we needed a runner that will exploit the space behind them not Lacazette this game would be like Leeds game when Auba scored 3 goals because there is space to run to. But Arteta delayed too long to change and it cost him the game. It’s just an half time though if he can look at his mistake and change with the personnel he uses Like willian for Martineli Auba for Lacazette we will win comfortably… Read more »

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

This is not funny anymore. If he couldn’t win the trophy, then it’s bye-bye for me. This was not the first time his team selection (William) was bad. Non-negotiable my ass. Just say that you favor Willian than any other players. At least you’ll make an honest statement for once

Bob's Mexican Cousin

At least with Unai we didn’t have a clue what he was saying

ArsenalOz

I am so. so. so. tired of this shit. For a while we’ve been going one step forward, two steps back – it now feels like no steps forward, all steps back. Even the players seem like they can’t be arsed with Arteta’s ‘earn your place in the team’ discipline anymore. He’s running out of cards/tactics. Will he stay or go over the summer? I’m not 100% sure I even care anymore. This is so draining.

WCGooner596

Arteta has the dear in the headlights look!

Goodly morning

Poundshop Pep.

TUMANG

Does he ever take responsibility?

Gunner08

The fact that he doesn’t say that not subbing out willian was a bad choice makes me worried a player who won’t take responsibility for his actions is bad a manager much worse.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

The non-negotiable is only valid for players other than Willian. Imagine that

The Arsenal

Xhaxa and Partey were poor but the amount of times they look up and see no runners or anything to hit is ridiculous. We look so paceless despite having players with pace.

Vlad

Poor game management and squad selection, fielding unfit players. No clear game plan – out from the back, where we typically fail making mistakes, lack of pressure and desire and last but not least – no proper, vocal, strong character and top player skipper. Simply none. Never saw Bellerin or Auba captaincy skills as it used to be at good old Arsenal.

carlosLA

I struggle to see any reason to have belief in Arteta. Say what you will about the wisdom of hiring him into Arsenal for his job in charge, but the experiment has failed. There’s perhaps a good coach in there somewhere. Let him go develop himself on a smaller stage, as is the normal path for very good reason. Sadly I feel likewise — lack of reason for belief or optimism — about any of the decision-makers: Vinai, Edu… even Per was just handed a big role because of his tenure as a player. He had no qualifications for the… Read more »

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

No, no. YOU put us on the back foot.

Jean Ralphio

Arteta has for sure made some bad in-game and out game decisions but playing Willian was the wrong call and it’ll cost him his career. Should have gone with Pepe on the left and Auba down the middle. No team in the world will play without defensive errors. We have enough attacking talent to win. This draw is on Arteta but I still am not Artetaout. If we have a bad end of season, many players might be. On the other hand, the midfield is not good enough. We need more mobility and this game exposed that and Holding too… Read more »

Billy bob

Wrong!! You should have made those substitutions in the 60th minute at the LATEST – personally I would have made them at half time!!! It worries me that he can’t see it!!!

Wolsty

Unfortunately it is on Arteta, having 5 subs should make changes easier. He waited far too long to affect the game. Granted we should’ve 2-3 up but same old Arsenal don’t take our chances and get punished. I’ve no clue what system or tactics he’s trying to play and the players certainly don’t either. Partey was shocking tonight and don’t get me started on Willian….Gonna be a very tricky second leg next week, we need a decent performance on Sunday to build confidence. This is a massive week for Arteta otherwise I’m afraid he has to go….I’m hoping that Rafa… Read more »

rincewind

doesn’t it get tiring? it’s not healthy, in the club and with the fans.

Zet

Arteta is so lucky Covid struck. The fans would have given him hell.

Biggles

It’s not really what MA says after the game to the press, it’s what he’s says (or is not saying) to the players before they go out on the pitch and at half-time that counts. We had rather contradictory comments a little while ago about players taking responsibility but not being fearful of the consequences (if things went wrong). I’m not sure what the first leg proved about that.