Mikel Arteta rues Arsenal’s lack of ruthlessness and ‘very, very poor goals’ in title blow

Steven Chicken
Mikel Arteta does his best impression of the Picard facepalm meme
Mikel Arteta, seen here recreating the Picard facepalm meme, had to watch his side failures at both ends against Aston Villa

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was dismayed by his side’s inability to see out at least a point against Aston Villa having failed to be clinical enough to make the most of a positive first half in which he felt his side could have been several goals ahead.

Arsenal came into the weekend top of the table but knew they needed to beat Villa to return there following Manchester City’s convincing victory over lowly Luton Town on Saturday afternoon.

Mikel Arteta: ‘When you are at this level you have to punish them’

Liverpool’s one-goal defeat at home to Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday had served as a boost to City and Arsenal alike, but the Gunners were left shell-shocked by a quickfire late double from Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins.

Arteta told Sky Sports after his side’s loss: “It was two very different [halves]. The first half was superb, one of the best halves we have played against a top team. It should have been three or four or more, I don’t know.

READ MORE: Arsenal humbled by Aston Villa over 26-minute period which could define their season

“But you don’t put that scoreline and you don’t reflect on that in the second half. We lacked momentum, we didn’t happen a lot of things, and we didn’t have the flow that we had in the first half and then we conceded two very, very poor goals.

“Credit to [Villa] because first half we had a lot, but we were a bit imprecise enough with the ball and we didn’t have enough sequences in the right areas to do what we did in the first half. We struggled to get in the areas we did in the first half and that’s it, we lost it, and you have to congratulate the opponent.

“When you are at this level you have to punish them. It’s not like you’re going to do this for 90-95 minutes – and when we haven’t done that, at least don’t concede the goals that we have.”

Everything coming up Manchester City in Premier League title race

Liverpool and Arsenal’s losses have handed the advantage to Arteta’s former club City, who now sit top of Premier League after starting the weekend in third place.

Defending champions City will take on Brighton, Nottingham Forest, Wolves, Fulham, Tottenham and West Ham in their final six games of the season.

Liverpool will face Fulham, Everton, West Ham, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Wolves; while Arsenal’s fixture list features Wolves, Chelsea, Spurs, Bournemouth, Manchester United and Everton.