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Mikel Arteta’s reaction as his team surrender a two goal lead again

Every word from the boss as Arsenal are held to a draw at the London Stadium this afternoon.

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Mikel Arteta on Saka and penalty miss
Image Credit: Getty Images

Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta was understandably very frustrated after his players surrendered a two goal lead for the second week in a row.

The Gunners were cruising inside the opening 15 minutes at the London Stadium with goals coming from Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard putting Arsenal ahead. However the league leaders got arrogant, and maybe a little complacent, as they were pegged back right before half-time with Said Benrahma converting from the spot.

Arsenal should have put the game to bed for a second time when referee David Coote awarded them a penalty of their own but Bukayo Saka put it wide.. Two minutes later, Jarod Bowen went up the over end and produced an equaliser which leaves the title race wide open with seven games left to play.

Here’s every word from Mikel Arteta after the two points dropped this afternoon…

On his assessment of the match…

Yeah, very disappointing because the way we started the game was superb. Again, you go two-nil up and you have the game in total control. Then we have to blame ourselves. We lost that purpose to really attack them, to threaten that goal, instead we kept the ball just for the sake of playing and we give them hope and then conceded a terrible penalty where we give the ball away. After that, credit to them, they started to play direct, we could not control those situations and you start to get in that roller coaster where everything is throw in, throw in, corner and then corner. And we didn’t manage to get away from that. What we did in the second half, even with the changes, it wasn’t enough. Obviously, it’s a crucial moment at 2-1 when you have a penalty. You make it 3-1 and it’s a different game and two minutes later you concede a goal.

On whether he was surprised to see his players lose momentum for a second week in a row…

Yeah, but it’s easy to do it from here, it’s harder to do it on the pitch but certainly the purpose we need to go for the third and fourth goal, I didn’t see it. Then we started to get sloppy and playing flicks and losing the ball inside too many times and allowing counters. It broke our flow and then again, credit to West Ham because when they do what they do, they are a really good team and put you in trouble.

On his message at half time…

That we have to change the dynamic. That if you don’t control the direct play, you’re never going to dominate the game and it’s what happened straight from kick-off. We conceded a throw-in, a corner, a corner. Then it’s a crucial moment when you can go 3-1 up and you go 2-2, two minutes later.

On Saka usually being reliable from the spot…

Yes, but a player that takes penalties, misses penalties. I haven’t known anybody who doesn’t. Still we should have done things much better after the first 30 minutes.

On what he made of the performance at 2-2…

When we changed it, we improved. We got some control in the game and we started to play much more in the final third but we lacked that last pass, that opening to make it. Bukayo’s through, we have three against two after 40 metres of running and we didn’t manage to kill the game.

On what he’ll say to his players about title race talk being notched up…

The same. I don’t know how many notches there were three months ago, seven months ago, it’s always there. We can’t control it. Fortunately, we can control playing better than we did when we went two-nil and this is what we have to focus on.

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