Mikel Arteta identified sloppiness on the ball and failings in defence as key reasons for Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat at Manchester United.
The Gunners may have broken the deadlock in controversial circumstances – Emile Smith Rowe burying the ball in the net while David de Gea lay on the turf holding his ankle – but we were good value for the lead after a bright start at Old Trafford.
Unfortunately, despite promising opportunities to extend the advantage, we allowed the home side came back into things before the break when Bruno Fernandes swept home. Similar strikes by Ronaldo and Martin Odegaard saw the scoreline swing both ways in the second half before the Norwegian’s costly challenge on Fred gave Ronaldo a chance to seal the points from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining.
Of our five Premier League defeats, this one particularly grated.
“I think we were sloppy in possession,” was Arteta’s assessment in his post-game press conference.
“We gave the ball away to the opponent, and we had no pressure there. That created strong momentum that allowed them to run, and they had the structure to play – and suddenly we started to give the ball away.
“So many unforced errors that led to them having belief that they could do something in the game. I didn’t see a team with the handbrake, I saw a team that wanted to impose (themselves) here.
“They were dominant, we played with the right structure and the right freedom at the same time. But we didn’t defend our box well enough well, and manage some situations well enough to concede the way did.”
While there are many positives to take from the game, the fact we continued a recent trend of dominating long spells in games before slowly retreating into ourselves is a clear issue.
Asked how he stops his players dropping off, Arteta said: “Well I don’t know, it’s very difficult because when you are in [possession of] the ball, you have to make decisions – and I want to encourage them to do what they feel.
“But you know against those teams you get punished immediately, with the quality and amount of players that they can play (against) you straight away.”
Speaking to Arsenal.com, the boss underlined the need to learn from the game, especially with more stern tests ahead.
“We are here to win football matches and I’m disappointed because I have the feeling that we deserved more,” he said.
“But again, we have to be realistic that if we do what we did in certain moments, defend in our box against probably one of the best squads in the world, they’re going to punish you because they have so many goals and quality to define those moments and that’s the curve and hopefully the lesson that we have to take from today.”