Monday, June 24, 2024

Arteta: The difference was in the boxes

Lens condemned Arsenal to a first defeat of the season coming from behind at Stade Bollaert-Delelis to win 2-1 on matchday two of Champions League Group B.

The Gunners made the perfect start when Gabriel Jesus ruthlessly punished a defensive mistake on 14 minutes but that proved to be the high point on a night when Bukayo Saka limped off with an injury before half time.

Adrien Thomasson took advantage of a poor pass by David Raya to score the home side’s equaliser on 25 minutes and more sloppy defending after the break allowed Przemysław Frankowski space to cross for Elye Wahi to finish first time.

The Gunners did have chances to grab a late equaliser – substitutes Smith Rowe and Nelson both went close – but the home side stood firm to take the points.

“Congratulations to Lens. As we all saw, they are a really good side,” Mikel Arteta told TNT Sports. “It was an extremely exceptional atmosphere and a really difficult opponent.

“We made the most difficult thing in scoring the first goal and we had total control of the game. And in one action they managed to score and then it was game on again.

“We had a huge chance straight after the break with Leo [Trossard]. And two, three big chances. It’s true that we didn’t generate enough threat in the final third, like in many occasions we didn’t attack certain spaces and provoked certain jumps that for us are not good against them.

“But the difference from the PSV game [on matchday one]was the boxes. We had three or four big chances and we didn’t defend the box well enough to win the game.”

Reflecting on the build-up to Lens’ equaliser, which saw David Raya concede possession cheaply, the boss added: “Mistakes are part of football and they will continue to be there. But I think the difference was made in both boxes today, especially in the Champions League.

“You don’t generate 10 clear-cut chances in the Champions League. When you get there, you have to put the ball in the back of the net and you have to defend the box much better than we did.”

There was also an update on how Bukayo Saka got injured although the boss doesn’t know how serious it is and whether the winger will be available for Sunday’s crunch game against Manchester City.

“It was an action. It was a backheel and he felt something on that. The specific action it was nothing else. Obviously, he wasn’t comfortable to continue.”

With Saka unable to play more than 25 minutes and Gabriel Martinelli still sidelined by a hamstring injury, Arteta admitted his side were missing “a lot of threat” in the final third. All the same, he echoed the sentiment of Declan Rice by promising his players will learn from their first taste of Champions League football on the road.

“It was a big night for us. We didn’t manage to get the result that we want but we’ll take a lot of things from it and learn,” he concluded.

The Gunners go again in against Seville in three weeks’ time.

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Spanish Gooner

One good transfer window can launch a team forwards and we saw that in the last two seasons, but one bad window can drop you through the floor.

Mayor McCheese

Any window in which Rice came in is a good window for me!


Seriously, he was our whole team today (and looked a little frustrated about not getting more help at times).


I would have preferred Jorginho and Rice in the midfield instead of Havertz, considering it was a away game. Draw is always a good result in CL away game.


Agreed. Jorgs I could handle playing in a midfield with a proper #6 (not as a #6). And he’s way more creative than havertz.


So you think Arsenal had a bad transfer window?
Get a grip and have perspectives.
Timber was meant to be the perfect replacement for Ziny but he and Arsenal were so unlucky in his the first PL of the season.


We’re third in the league, second in ucl group and won our cup game. Have some perspective.


What’s with Arteta and his boxes? Does he need a place to stay tonight?


Feels like he’s repeating himself a bit with that talking point. Maybe you don’t generate 10 clear cut chances in the CL but I think it’s fair to expect 5 or 6 against Lens and if we did that we might have scored 3 and won the game still. About the defending he’s right though, we do need to do better.

Invincible Larry Csonka

Yeah ..while the first part of Mikael statement is obvious… and sounds a bit like an echo …the second part of his statement is right too ..we are not defending well enough in the box ….and for me thats not limited to just this match…The 1st goal we let against the Tots (where there were 2 attacking Tots ‘Superstars’ against 5 defending Arse, and yet the ball somehow still manage to roll beautifully into our net) was just not top defending, collectively…and the 2nd goal we let in against Fulham annoyed the hell out of me too….I know a lot… Read more »

Mayor McCheese

I think it’s just that he’s never forgotten that his managerial career only really took off on Boxing Day of 2020.


Red boxes are delivered to the British sovereign every day (except Christmas Day and Easter Sunday) by government departments, via the page of the presence.


Could we start with you learning Mr Arteta ? Zinny ALWAYS leaves space behind him Rambo is a better keeper end of ! And while I’m on could we please get rid of the crappy sideways and backwards passing ? The white posts with the nets are there to be shot at & attacked !!!


Zinny has been fading in the second half of games alot. His game against Bournemouth he was probably MotM but today he was poor and got caught on the ball. He was burned on that left side for their second goal too. How many players in world football can play that role anyhow? He’s pigeonholed himself with that tactic and now Zinny HAS to stay fit because Timber was the replacement for him in that role.


I think the whole defense was a bit poor today. They all got a bit caught at times and they got sliced and diced lens. Normally they’re so good. Hopefully just a blip. But it is concerning how crucial zinny is. Tomi is pretty solid in the role, but he has none of that defense splitting capacity of zinny, which is a big part of our offensive threat. It feels like we’ve bundled all our creativity into Marty, rice, zinny and the wingers. Apart from trossard and partey, it is beginning to feel like a large gap in quality between… Read more »

Adney Toams

And without Rambo encouraging from the goal, it’s likely to continue!


that’s the thing. arteta only knows this tactic even though he has very good players at his disposal like tierney. and when he puts tomi there, arteta wants him to play ala zink, which is terrible as tomi’s offensive output sucks


KT is injured at Real sociedad, so…


No it wasn’t. The difference was slow ponderous build up vs quick attacking build up.


famous half-moon horseshoe tactics, I was screaming at the TV


Would love some questions like: “What’s your strategic thought of putting a midfielder on the right wing repeatedly instead of a Reiss Nelson which is a winger?” or ” Why buy a player who played in the front three and try to teach him how to play as a left 8 in a new system in a new team instead of buying an actual midfielder?”
Love Arteta but he sure does like to go the unconventional route with everything. Hope all this works out for our title/trophy hopes.


Simple question:
What’s wrong with
1 playing your best players in their best positions,
2 if it’s not broken don’t fix it,
3 don’t play your injured players in less important games


Kai can play in a front three? He looks like an uncreative defensive midfielder masquerading as a #8/second striker. Is he really this useless in possession and as an attacking threat!? I get that he helps with our defensive structure (usually), but he’s offering nothing going forward. Crazy as it sounds he’s been on par with xhaka defensively, but a MASSIVE downgrade in possession. Is this the extent of his offensive game? A few decent runs off ball here and there and boring slow passes? Yikes.


I hope Havertz ain’t a buy which would fill the back pockets of Edu & MA. He seems too desperate to prove that he made the right choice. And before ppl start bashing me for this post; kindly understand that even Alex Ferguson preferred to buy players managed by a Scottish agency run by his brother. And after a certain audit Manutd declared that this is a serious case for ‘Conflict Of Interest’ & banned that agency. There is no shame in that to be honest as long as such a decision works out in Arsenals favour but at the… Read more »


can someone please explain what ‘provoked certain jumps that for us are not good against them’ means?


Gave away the ball too cheaply which provoked 2 counters from which they scored. But he will never name players who make mistakes

Crash Fistfight

I think it means sneaking up behind the opposition players and shouting “BOOO”

Cultured Determination

dont understand why he risked saka ahead of the city game. also raya is trying too hard to impress with his passing in order to get ahead of Ramsdale. we’ve seen his iffy passing against spurs, and now here. either he gets back down to basics, or to be fair he should sit out

Finsbury Park Gooner

I love Arteta to bits but Ramsdale should never have been dropped. One of our best players last season.

A Different George

I’m not the first to say this: If there had been no Champions League match, then there would have been a training session. The chance of picking up the unjury that Saka apparently got (no contact, from a backheel) is *exactly* the same. Right now–fingers crossed–we only have two players (Martinelli and Timber) unavailable through injury and a couple (Partey, Elneny) working back to match fitness. Every other team in the league regularly has equivalent problems or worse, some far worse (as we have in the past). Football.


Maybe the difference is the kit?
Green makes them passive and low-intensity while yellow with garish stripes gets them amped up and on the job.
Can we keep wearing the ugly kit please?



He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

Then you should have spent that £60 on an actual striker and not one that isn’t.

Bill Hall

To qualify Mikel the first goal they scored was due to a mistake by Raya but hey he wont get dropped because he’s Spanish 🤔

A Different George

You don’t honestly believe that, do you? Why say it, when it’s obviously nonsense? Arteta may be wrong to prefer Raya, but the idea that this is because of his nationality is just bizarre.


Also not seeming to take into account that Mikel is basque, so it’s equivalent to saying a Scotsman won’t drop a player because they’re English.


I think we are not great at passing out from the back. Currently Man city, Brighton, Liverpool and Spurs does a way better job than us doing so. We are having serious problems finding the free man in those deep pressing situations, also we don’t have a pattern in moving the ball intricately enough to get out of those situations. Neither do we seem to have a current midfielder (s) brave enough or equip technically to take the ball on the half turn and release the pressure often enough. This is a ongoing issue from last season and I am… Read more »


I think you have good points.
We haven’t looked sharp enough playing out from the back and offensively we haven’t been supporting each other enough.
Looking at the shape last night, Lens looked compact throughout and it seemed at times that they had more players on the pitch. We were spread out and the shape was poor.

Another Paul

Not enough pace/threat in getting in behind, and too dependant on Odegaard for creativity. When Odegaard is a little off we don’t have any other creativity from midfield. Need Partey integrated back in ASAP methinks


We were too spread up. I couldn’t even see one Arsenal player in the middle of the pitch. They were all sideways


I think the one-two combos are slightly outdated in the sense that defenders these days are much more trained to stop them, so they’re not as effective, so I get why we don’t do as much of that. But everything else you said is 100% on point and I’m glad someone else is pointing that out here instead of the usual “we pass it around too much side to side” cluelessness

Arteta ball

Ramsdale please and more of ESR

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