Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta expressed his disappointment after his team’s shock defeat of 0-1 to Aston Villa on Tuesday. Even though he refused to blame his players, Arteta admitted that the Arenal players needed to find ways to attack after conceding the first-half goal.
“This is football and every game is completely different. First of all, I’ll congratulate Villa on their performance and the win under such pressure of fighting relegation and for us it’s been a very emotionally and physically demanding week. We tried everything,” Arteta said as quoted on the official website of Arsenal.
“I think you cannot fault the effort of the players, but after the goal we needed to find ways to attack them better in the final third and we lacked that creativity and that final cross and spark,” he added.
After beating Liverpool in Premier League and Manchester United in the FA Cup semifinal last week, Arteta had made six changes into their starting eleven on Tuesday. The team at the Villa Park looked like a horrible shadow of the team that had impressed last week.
Arsenal’s long-standing weakness in defending set-pieces reared its ugly head as Villa scored the only goal of the match from a corner in the 27th minute.
Determined to save themselves from embarrassment, Arsenal pushed hard in the second half for an equaliser. Bukayo Saka blazed over from a good position 12 yards out.
Villa, on the other hand, defended with all their might. They had almost squandered the first-half lead when Eddie Nketiah’s glancing header hit the post and bounced back into Pepe Reina’s hands.
Explaining how Arsenal could have breached Villa’s low-block defence, Arteta said, “Training, time and understanding the spaces. Where they are, how we can provoke them, where we need the bodies and the areas that we have to attack.”
“And then a little bit in the first half I felt that we didn’t have the urgency with the ball. In the second half it was much better, we controlled the transitions much better as well, but it wasn’t enough,” he added.
The Spanish boss, however, urged his players to not lose hearts and demanded improvement. He said, “The big challenge is to keep going on the process, keep the players believing in what we are doing, improve them as much as we can and then make some really good decisions in certain areas and that’s what we need. That’s it.”