Get back on the horse quickly. That seems to be the message from Mikel Arteta following last night’s damaging 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace.
Unwilling to blame his squad’s overall lack of experience or injuries, the Spaniard said his players must take responsibility for a performance that was so below par that a defeat seemed inevitable from the moment Patrick Vieira’s side took the lead.
“We weren’t at the races, especially in the first half,” said Arteta in his post-game press conference.
“We were late to every ball, we were soft in the duels and we didn’t earn the right to play, and when we did a little bit we were sloppy on the ball.
“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, apologise, regroup, and tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to prepare for the game against Brighton.”
After working hard to earn fourth spot prior to the Interlull, Arsenal were the last of the Champions League hopefuls to play this match week. While Chelsea lost and Manchester United dropped points to Leicester, Sp*rs tightened the screw with an easy victory over Newcastle to leapfrog us in the table.
Arteta refuted suggestions that his players subsequently felt the pressure of the occasion at Selhurst Park.
“No, because the pressure has been there for the last seven or eight weeks,” he said.
“We are talking all the time about the race for the top four and the boys have been performing extremely well and getting the results and playing really well.
“Today we didn’t perform and it’s as simple as that, we were second best in every department, especially in the first half, and when we tried to change in the second half, we did and we played much more of the game that we wanted to play.
“In the final moments we had three of four big chances that we didn’t score to get back and give ourselves a chance to get back in the game.”
He also made clear that he wouldn’t be blaming an bad day at the office on youthful inexperience.
“These young boys have been doing really well, so I don’t like to be unfair [and say] ‘because when they do something it’s because they’re young’.
“They’ve been playing extremely well, they’ve been performing under pressure and doing what we ask them to do, and today we didn’t do it.”
The boss also reiterated that as things stand, Arsenal’s fate remains in their own hands.
“We’ve got a game in hand still and we need to play [Sp*rs],” he said.
“We know that with nine games a lot of things are going to happen, we have to play each other and we have to play some big games coming up. We have to focus on ourselves and the problem that we had today is not Sp*rs, it was us and what we did in the first half.”