EPL

Arteta: Arsenal must improve game management

By Sports Desk January 19, 2020

Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal must learn to control matches after throwing away another lead late on in their 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.

John Fleck's deflected shot seven minutes from time cancelled out Gabriel Martinelli's ninth goal of the season in Saturday's Premier League clash at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal have dropped 13 points from winning positions this term - as many as they did in the whole of 2018-19 - having also let advantages slip against Chelsea and Crystal Palace in recent weeks.

Arteta concedes a lack of focus has cost his side since he replaced Unai Emery in December but denies the Gunners lack leaders in their ranks to help see games through.

"It's more to do with game management," he told reporters. "We can talk about the things that happened prior to that situation that can be avoidable. 

"But you know, there are one hundred million decisions to make in one football match and 11 players or 22 players making them [at] 180 beats per minute.

"I don't think it was about concentration [against United]. Against Palace I think it was. I think we switched off on the free-kick and we paid the price. 

"Many things happened after that, but on Saturday I don't think it was. It's a second ball. You try to put a header to the wide areas, not centrally and someone puts it, from there, after bouncing the ball, in the top corner. It's difficult."

Arsenal have won just one of their opening five league games under Arteta, three of those ending in 1-1 draws, but the Spaniard believes improvements have been made.

"In many aspects of the way that we train and the things that we're trying to implement, yes, I am pleased, but obviously there are things that I want to improve," he said.

"We will try to find the best game plan possible for each game to try to avoid the things that are going to go against us."

Martinelli helped fill the void left by suspended team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang against the high-flying Blades, the teenage forward scoring his second league goal in his fourth start in the competition.

With Aubameyang also ruled out of the games against Chelsea and Bournemouth, Arteta acknowledged the importance of others stepping up.

"When you lose a player of his stature, you're always concerned," he said. "But it is what it is - we know he's not going to be with us. 

"It doesn't matter how sad we are for the next two games. We need other players and [against United] some of them showed what they are capable of doing."

Eddie Nketiah was brought on as a second-half substitute for his first Arsenal appearance of the season after his Leeds United loan spell was cut short.

And the 20-year-old, who struggled for playing time under Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road, is in contention to start against Chelsea on Tuesday.

"Every player has a chance to start. He is in the squad," Arteta said. "We will assess who is in best condition to play in who is training well and we'll make the decision based on that.

"I was very impressed with him. Everything I've seen in training I really liked and I think he's grown a lot in terms of his loan and the environment he was working in."

Related items

  • Ronaldo 1,000: Juventus star set for landmark appearance Ronaldo 1,000: Juventus star set for landmark appearance

    Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make his 1,000th appearance for club and country when Juventus face SPAL in Serie A on Saturday.

    The Portugal superstar was named in Maurizio Sarri's starting XI after being rested for the 2-0 win over Brescia last weekend.

    Providing the 35-year-old comes through the warm-up unscathed, he will bring up his incredible landmark and seek to add to his tally of 724 goals. 

    It will be the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's 73rd outing for Juve, with the bulk of his matches having come for Real Madrid (438).

    Manchester United sit second on that list (292), with 31 of his games coming for Sporting CP, a further two for Sporting B and 164 for his country. 

  • It's not good enough! - Lampard fumes at VAR after Lo Celso 'leg-breaker' It's not good enough! - Lampard fumes at VAR after Lo Celso 'leg-breaker'

    Frank Lampard slammed VAR as "not good enough" after Giovani Lo Celso avoided a red card for an awful challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta in Chelsea's win over Tottenham.

    The Blues ran out 2-1 winners at Stamford Bridge, with goals from Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso before Antonio Rudiger put through his own net as Spurs threatened a scarcely deserved fightback.

    But prior to Tottenham's goal, the visitors might have been reduced to 10 men as Lo Celso might have been dismissed after planting his studs into Azpilicueta's shin.

    VAR assessed the incident and decided against a card, although it was reported the official concerned later backtracked on this opinion.

    The failure to make the correct call at the time did little to improve the mood of head coach Lampard, who was furious with the challenge.

    "It's not good enough. It's not good enough, I'm sorry," he told BT Sport. "It's two VARs now in two games [after two goals were disallowed in the defeat to Manchester United].

    "It's harder to speak about it when you've lost because people are claiming you're just shouting, but maybe you need to shout, because that's not good enough.

    "Everybody in the football world saw that that was a red. And it's too late, too late to do that. The game should be over [at 2-0].

    "I hate to call for red cards, but when they're endangering... That's a leg-breaker of a tackle.

    "You get VAR brought into the game to see it and give the right decision. I'm not saying anything about the referees on the spot - it's not easy  on the spot - VAR's here to clear those up. I'm not surprised they've put it right, but it's not good enough."

    Opposite number Jose Mourinho had little to add, although he saw acknowledgement of mistakes from the officials as progress.

    "I feel sorry that they don't admit [mistakes] more times, especially when things go against us," he said. "I don't want to speak about it [VAR]."

    Lampard was rather more positive about Chelsea's application, suggesting they had set standards to take forward in terms of their intensity.

    "The aggression in our game, the pressing off the ball, the work-rate [was aggressive]," he said. "We've been having a tough time at home for different reasons.

    "And when you're having tough times, there's only one option, and that's to fight. Sometimes, fighting [when it is] difficult, hanging on in the last few minutes when you shouldn't have been, those are the moments.

    "We have to bottle that up now, that feeling, understanding that needs to be our behaviour daily. The way we played today needs to be our daily behaviour in training and the games coming up."

  • Giroud delights in 'special day' after scoring on rare Chelsea start Giroud delights in 'special day' after scoring on rare Chelsea start

    Olivier Giroud was delighted to mark his return to the Chelsea XI with a goal and said he was "so happy to help the team" in the victory against Tottenham.

    World Cup winner Giroud was linked with a move away from Chelsea in January but stayed when no replacement was signed, while he had not scored a club goal since August.

    But the veteran striker was handed a rare start on Saturday - just his third in the league this season - and opened the scoring en route to a 2-1 win.

    Marcos Alonso added to Chelsea's advantage before a late Antonio Rudiger own goal, with the Blues holding on to leave Giroud to reflect on a hugely positive day.

    "Wow, yeah, it was a good feeling for me, a good moment," Giroud told BT Sport of his goal. "I'm so happy for the team, to help the team to win this game today.

    "It had been three months I didn't start, so it's a special day for me and for all of us."

    Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta added: "We have a squad and we need to be ready for every game. It's true that, when you don't play, it difficult.

    "Everybody wants to help the team. But everybody keeps training hard, fighting to be in the team.

    "The competition is what gives the team that extra per cent where everybody can push to the limit. Today it worked perfectly."

    Azpilicueta was involved in one of the game's flashpoints as Giovani Lo Celso appeared to stamp on the defender's legs in an awful late challenge.

    He avoided a red card following a VAR review, although the official in charge of the system reportedly later acknowledged Lo Celso should have been sent off.

    "I'm not a player that likes to be on the floor, because I'm a defender, I'm tough, and I make fouls," Azpilicueta said.

    "But it was not a normal foul. It was a clear stamp on my shin. I felt it straight away and I was surprised that it was not a red card and not even a yellow card.

    "Obviously everybody can make mistakes, but when you have a lot of replays, I think it could be easier."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.