Mikel Arteta has hit out at Arsenal after their lackluster display in a stunning 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.
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Arsenal had the chance to move back into the top four but were second best from the first minute to the last and couldn’t match Palace’s physicality.
Given that Tottenham moved above Arsenal and into fourth place ahead of this game, this was a big opportunity missed for Arsenal to move back ahead of their north London rivals and their young squad seemed to crack under the pressure of the situation.
Speaking after the game to our partners in the UK at Sky Sports, Arteta apologized to the Arsenal fans and couldn’t believe what he had seen.
“We were poor, especially in the first half. I apologize to our supporters. We didn’t have the presence today or the composure to dominate the situation so that is what I’m most annoyed with. Some days you are not there and you are late all the time. They got on top of it and had a good atmosphere and we could not get out,” Arteta said.
He added: “We didn’t have any dominance or sequences of play when we could take control of the game and we conceded two poor goals as well, so overall it’s unacceptable. We need to put our hands up, apologize, regroup, and tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to prepare for the game against Brighton.”
Injury issues pile up
Arsenal missed Scottish left back Kieran Tierney massively as his stand-in Nuno Tavares looked uncomfortable all game long and struggled defensively on Palace’s first two goals.
It has now been confirmed that Tierney needs knee surgery and will likely miss the remainder of the season. That is a huge blow for the Gunners.
Thomas Partey struggled throughout this defeat (a huge surprise given how much he’s dominated games over the last few months) and came off with an injury and is being assessed, while right back Takehiro Tomiyasu remains sidelined but should return to training on April 17.
Partey “felt something in the same area that he got injured previously, so it’s a big concern” Arteta added.
How will this impact Arsenal’s top four hopes?
Those injuries at a key point of the season highlight Arsenal’s lack of squad depth and failing to strengthen in January may well cost them the spot in the top four they covet.
Heading into their final nine games of the season, Arsenal are only behind fourth-place Tottenham on goal difference and they still have to play at Spurs. But their game in-hand is at Chelsea, so that’s not easy, and on paper Tottenham have the easier run-in.
The north London derby on May 12 looks like it will be the decider as to who finishes in the top four this season. Right now, you have to say Tottenham look to have the edge in this intense battle to finish in the top four.