Arteta bemoans Arsenal mistakes in loss to title rivals City
Mikel Arteta bemoaned Arsenal’s mistakes handing Manchester City a significant psychological blow in the Premier League title race.
Pep Guardiola’s champions battled to a 3-1 victory at Emirates Stadium to move ahead of Arsenal, who have played a game fewer, on goal difference at the top-flight summit.
Kevin De Bruyne punished Takehiro Tomiyasu’s errant pass to open the scoring before second-half goals for Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland ensured Bukayo Saka’s first-half equalising penalty would prove irrelevant.
Manager Arteta, who coached City under Guardiola before taking the Arsenal role, acknowledged the Gunners were punished for their mistake-laden display in north London.
“We lost it, it was an incredible battle against two teams and we had them – but we gave them the goals,” Arteta, who has lost eight of nine games against Guardiola in all competitions, told Amazon Prime Video.
“We had them in big moments, but in the big moments they were better than us. We were really imprecise, we put ourselves in trouble, in certain areas of the pitch we overplayed and we got punished.
“We had three big chances but didn’t put them away and that was the difference. To beat them we have to be over our level because they are such a good team.
“The atmosphere and performance was really good, if you take away the way we gave them three goals.”
Despite defeat, Arteta says the performance only served to further his belief Arsenal can claim their first title since the 2003-04 ‘Invincibles’ campaign.
“I have more belief than I had before the game, with the performance and the level the team put in against City,” he added to BBC Sport.
“They wanted to play a different game than the one we played and with the crowd we have we can do it.
“They still have it [the belief], I can sense it. They feel they can do it.”
City had just 36 per cent possession in the victory, the lowest figure on the ball in a league game for a team managed by Guardiola in his top-flight managerial career.
While dominating possession, Arsenal’s only shot on target in the game came from Saka’s penalty after Eddie Nketiah was felled by Ederson.
Captain Martin Odegaard was far from his usual lofty standards and the Norway international lamented his side’s performance at either end of the pitch.
“The game is decided in the boxes and we were not sharp enough in front of the goal and in our own [box] as well,” Odegaard told Amazon Prime Video.
“They were better [in the boxes]. Apart from that, we played a good game, did many good things and had many good periods, but we have to be better in the boxes.
“It is football. Sometimes chances go in, sometimes not. But that is where we need to improve and be more clinical. And [we must] defend our box. That is not just about one player, but the whole team.
“As we have said all season, work hard and take it game by game. It is the same now.
“It is one game we have lost here and now we look to the next one.
“It was an unbelievable atmosphere and we are so grateful to everyone who came here and made the game special. We will work hard to give them something to make them happy about.”
After going three straight Premier League games without a win, Arsenal travel to play Aston Villa on Saturday.
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