Mikel Arteta was annoyed that Arsenal struggled to create chances in the defeat against Manchester City and lamented a tactical breakdown which led to Raheem Sterling’s early goal.
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Arsenal coughed up what turned out to be the winning goal just over a minute into the game, and it came from City’s fine play but an issue that Arteta expected.
Speaking to our partners in the UK at Sky Sports after the game, Arteta was happy enough with Arsenal’s reaction to a slow start but he wasn’t happy with the lack of chances they created.
“After that [the early goal] the team reacted really, really well. We were on top of the game, we started to generate chances and momentum in the opponents’ half, but we lacked the quality when we got in those situations to score a goal,” Arteta said.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hardly had a kick with very little service. Bukayo Saka was marked out of the game. Martin Odegaard and Nicolas Pepe were poor. They had no attacking intent and this is not a new thing this season.
Arsenal have Leicester, Tottenham, West Ham and Liverpool coming up in their next five league games and they have to go for it now.
Draws are no good against their rivals for a top six, or top four, finish.
What was the tactical problem for Arsenal?
Arteta also said that Arsenal’s slow start against City cost them dear as ‘they got something wrong.’
They failed to deal with Man City’s overloads, something they prepared for but couldn’t stop, as Riyad Mahrez tore their left flank apart and that was pivotal.
“It was a tactical thing that we prepared and we were unable to read it in the game and that costs you because you are unorganized every time you want to be aggressive in your high press,” Arteta said.
The Gunners boss was angry that all five-foot-seven of Sterling could head home the winner after 75 seconds.
“If you want to win against them, you cannot concede that goal,” Arteta added.
What is the goal for Arsenal this season?
They are in 10th place in the table. 10th. They are 11 points off the top four with 13 games to go and arguably their best chance of getting in the UEFA Champions League next season is by winning the Europa League.
Arteta called their Europa League Round of 32 second leg against Benfica on Thursday a ‘final’ as the score is 1-1. That tells you that he has pretty much written off the rest of this season in the league.
Losing to City is no disgrace, but it is a huge few weeks for Arsenal and they need to show much more than they did on Sunday. Especially in attack.