Arteta: “I love my team more than before”
Mikel Arteta was keen to how proud he is of his players following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison.
Arsenal remain top of the Premier League table despite this afternoon’s defeat at Goodison. The Gunners fell against all odds to Everton - one of the teams in the relegation zone in Sean Dyche’s first game in charge. It turned out to be a frustrating afternoon for the visitors but after the game, Mikel Arteta was full of praise for his players, who he hopes will pick themselves up and go on to deliver the north London club’s first league title since 2004.
Do you think your players weren’t at their best today?
Everton were really good and we have to congratulate them first for they way they have turned things around. I think they probably deserved to win the game because they were really efficient. From our side, I am disappointed because obviously, we didn’t get the result we wanted, and our performance didn’t reflect what we have been doing. Especially in two phases - one when they were really direct and we struggled to control that type of game, and get back to playing the type of game we wanted to play. And then with the amount of situations, open situations that we generated in the final third that has to finish with goals, clear-cut chances - much more than what we have done today.
The home crowd were very vocal, how did you think your players reacted to the pressure?
We cannot control their energy. I was certain that the energy was exactly - the thing is, what we can do in the game to try to keep the crowd as quiet as possible and generate frustration. There were moments when we managed to do that, and other moments when we gave them the opportunity to get to that stage.
The last 12-15 minutes, especially after we made the changes, we started to give away a lot of free-kicks and make rash decisions which obviously, is exactly what they want - to slow the game down, play balls into your last line and start to get set plays... and don’t play a lot. Today we didn’t manage that well.
We’ve played a lot of games like this already this season but credit to them - this is why they train every single day. You have to allow for that, and you have to do the basics, especially defending really, really well to give you control and the right to play. For moments we did it and in other moments we didn’t do it well enough to be more dominant in the game.
What message did you give in the dressing room after the game?
For the team, I want them to know how much I love them. I love them more now than three hours ago, a week ago, a month ago, three months ago. It’s very easy to be next to the players when they are winning and performing but this is the moment when I love my players and staff even more. We will stay together - this journey is going to be difficult and challenging - there will be bigger obstacles that we will have to overcome. Now we have to prepare well to get to Saturday with the right emotional level and the right spirit to beat Brentford..
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