Mikel Arteta says he made his players rewatch Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on Thursday so he could show them how close they ran the reigning Premier League champions.
While the manager accepts his players made fatal errors losing possession in dangerous areas in the second half and lacked efficiency in the final third, he says everybody around the club knows now that the gap with City, not long ago a chasm, has closed substantially.
Asked if his players can match City week after week, he said: “I’ve seen it with my eyes in two games but the level of efficiency has to be extremely good in every single ball to beat them at the end.
“We are in that journey, we want to be there but the team is highly motivated. Just in case they didn’t see it on the pitch or didn’t feel it after the game because of the result, I showed them yesterday [the match].
“You have to give credit to a team when they beat you, but, for sure, when you analyse the game again, I think that we lost it.”
He added: “They [the players] realised on the pitch and they feel on the pitch when they are coming against the best team this league has had in decades, how they performed against them. I sense a lot of belief.
“They were hugely disappointed not to get the result but not that long ago, we were looking there [at City] and we were so far [away] and needed to improve. Now we are closer but it wasn’t enough because they are much more efficient than us.”
Asked what he hoped to achieve by showing them a replay, he added: “More clarity, just in case they had any doubts.”
And whether Arsenal are even more motivated, he added: “Yes, I think so.”
The Gunners head to Villa Park tomorrow for a tough match against former coach Unai Emery. Thomas Partey faces a late fitness test but Emile Smith Rowe could return to the squad.