Mikel Arteta says Liverpool’s cutting-edge in the penalty box made all the difference on a night when Arsenal pushed Jurgen Klopp’s title challengers but ultimately came up short.
Two goals in six minutes from Diego Jota and substitute Roberto Firmino took the wind out of the Gunners’ sails in the second half not long after Martin Odegaard had squandered a fine chance to put the home side in the driving seat.
“How they executed the quality, the mentality, the physicality, the courage to play and be better than them in that phase, for me there’s no question about that.
“What happened in the boxes, that’s a different story and that’s where we lost the game.”
He added: “We had two big moments, before that [Liverpool scored], Martinelli goes all the way to the keeper and he has a big chance to score. And then we had the chance we Martin.
“When you have these chances and you are dominating the game and you are doing everything you are doing in the game, you have to be ahead.
“If you don’t and then we concede the two poor goals that we conceded, then it becomes really difficult to win the game.”
Despite the obvious disappointment of losing the match and a recent five-game winning streak, the Spaniard was clearly pleased with the nature of his side’s efforts.
“The whole team, I think the team played fantastically well,” he said.
“I don’t think the result reflects the performance of the team but unfortunately, in the boxes, they were by far the better team. They had two decisive moments and they put the ball in the net twice.
“To play at the level that they [Liverpool] require you to play, because they have set other standards again this season, and to cope with that and sometimes be better than that,
“I have to congratulate and be very proud of the team. Unfortunately, we’re here to win football matches and today, we haven’t done it.”
Arsenal don’t have much time to sulk, the players will have a recovery day tomorrow, a training session on Friday and then head to Birmingham for a Saturday lunchtime kick-off with Aston Villa. It’ll be important to get a win before the first Interlull of 2022 kicks into gear.
“We have to take the positives, learn from the good things we can do as a team, sleep well, eat well, mentally be ready,” said the boss. “Saturday will be a very different game but a very difficult game.”