Mikel Arteta has defended his players and taken full responsibility for Arsenal’s disappointing 3-0 defeat to Brighton at the Emirates.
The Gunners were dismantled and outplayed by Roberto De Zerbi’s side to give Manchester City the chance to claim the Premier League title next week.
Second-half goals from Julio Ensico, Deniz Undav and Pervis Estupinan against an Arsenal side out of ideas was the difference on Sunday.
Arteta knew all about Brighton’s qualities going into the match and believes they made the game the one they wanted to play in the second half.
“We discussed that Brighton were difficult to chase against,” Arteta said. “The first half was very competitive. We should have capitalised better than we did.
“The second half was about keeping doing that and making a couple of adjustments but we conceded very early and after that it was the game they wanted.
“We tried to react but we gave a silly goal away and the team had no answers from 2-0.
“We knew the challenge we had today. It was very different to the one we had at Newcastle.
“I was stood here and very proud of what we did last week but today we have to apologise to our people. We have to move on very quickly and not keep that feeling for a long time.
“I have no idea [if City will lose it] but I have to think about what we can do better and what we can do to beat Nottingham Forest.
“It is difficult to see that picture [season to be proud of] today. When the team shows the face in the second half it shows we have things to adjust. Any time in this league can punish you and that would happen in the Champions League too.”
Arteta apologised to the Arsenal fans and is not thinking about the title race but did acknowledge that his side can mathematically still top the table come the end of the season.
“A week ago I was standing here feeling proud and today we have to apologise for the performance in the second half. It was not acceptable,” the Spanish manager said.
“Mathematically, it’s still possible, but today it’s impossible to think about it. We need to digest the result and the performance in the second half, understand why and have a different reaction.
“Brighton were really good when we became really poor. Before that it was the game we expected.
“The first half we knew that, the way they play, they make the game compeitive. It was difficult to get a long sequence of play.
“We conceded when they were direct in behind and the second one we gave away was a silly one. Then the team had no answers.
“We had to be more aggressive and take chances. They used the space well and we got punished.
“I will always defend my players so the person responsible is me. After a defeat like this at home you have to make analysis of yourself first before looking at anybody else.”