Late goal leaves Arsenal boss demanding ‘commitment’

Gunners ‘suffer’ during away-day win

Thursday, 10th March — By Steve Barnett

Mikel Arteta

WINNING on a sunny afternoon in Watford should have left a big smile on Mikel Arteta’s face – especially as the three points saw Arsenal move into the Premier League’s top four.

But the Gunners boss was less than impressed with how his side saw out the 3-2 victory at Vicarage Road in what he described as a Sunday of “suffering”. With a somewhat rejuvenated Leicester City visiting the Emirates Stadium this Sunday, the Spaniard has warned his players they must show more “commitment defensively” if Arsenal are to end the campaign with a return to Champions League football.

“I saw that in the first minute of the game – we could have been 1-0 down,” bemoaned Arteta.

“We were really good going forward and we had all the right intention and the energy to do it.

“We scored three magnificent goals but we didn’t have the same energy and commitment defensively. When that happens, to win a game away from home, you’re going to suffer.

“That’s why we suffered today – because defensively we didn’t have the right structure. We didn’t detect with enough urgency the moments where they could activate certain spaces. We conceded two goals and we could have conceded another one or two.

“Thinking sometimes that ‘yeah, I have the space and this is really good and we’re controlling the game’, but they were not. I’m really happy that we won the game and there are a lot of positive things to take on, but that’s not going to be enough.”

Pin-pointing problems that have to be resolved before taking to the field against the Foxes, Arteta added: “We have to show that maturity, understanding and capacity to control the game.

“At 3-1, after, we had to make 300,000 passes in the opposition half and when they have the right moment to come at us, then we can attack them. We didn’t do that. The game was open and you had the feeling that the game was open right until the end.”

Arsenal now sit fourth, and boast games in hand over their Champions League-chasing rivals. Arteta, however, might not be aware of that – if you believe his focused approach to the next game only. He said: “To be fair, I don’t like to look at the table a lot because we have games in hand – we’re going to play different fixtures and I know the objective and it’s only one, to try and improve tomorrow on what we’ve done today.

“I cannot control results and I cannot predict which matches we are going to win, draw or lose – it’s impossible. If I start to do that I think we’re going to lose focus in what we want to do.”

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