Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal "crashed" at the start of the second half in their 4-0 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday and "threw the game away".

Arsenal came into the contest off the back of a 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions - eight games without defeat in the Premier League - but were dismantled at Anfield.

The first half had been closely contested and Sadio Mane's header from a free-kick was all that separated the two sides at half-time, but the Gunners' nervy start to the second period saw Nuno Tavares gift the ball to Diogo Jota for Liverpool's second goal and the visitors never recovered as Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino rounded off the rout.

Arteta bemoaned that poor spell after the break, which he explains was the turning point in the match as Liverpool's high press repeatedly caught Arsenal as they tried to build from the back.

"At 1-0 down we go to half-time, it is the moment we have to be patient and start to build the game in our favour, and we did completely the opposite," Arteta said to Sky Sports after the game. 

"The first 15, 20 minutes, we just crashed. We started to give the ball away in the first 25 metres of our build-up phase and that’s why we lost the game, because the rest is just a consequence of the frustration of having to chase the game.

"We know they will punish you. They can press, they are one of the best at it. Mistakes are a part of football. They have been the best team in Europe because they can dominate in every aspect. They were better than us today.

"It was a huge test. We showed for 45 minutes we could compete with them. We crashed for 15-20 minutes, we threw the game away and that is the learning from today. We take the things we have to learn from today and move on. We have to carry on and it is about how we react now as a team."

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale agreed with his manager's assessment of the team's two contrasting halves, while also insisting that the defeat would not significantly impact the success or failure of the Gunners' season.

"[Anfield is] one of the toughest places, if not the toughest, to come," Ramsdale said to Sky Sports. "We did well for the first 45 minutes, they might've had more of the ball but we contained them.

"The second half showed we have got a lot of improvement to come, we made mistakes but that's life and football. We got punished and that's what the top teams do. At the start of the second [half], we were a bit naive and we needed to make better decisions on the pitch."

"This game will not define our season – we had a tough start to the season then went 10 games unbeaten. We are realistic, we know it's a tough place to come and we'll be prepared now. We will come in on Monday head up chest out, we won't be moping around."

Jurgen Klopp explained his touchline row with Mikel Arteta was because the Spaniard and his coaching staff attempted to get Sadio Mane sent off during Liverpool's 4-0 demolition of Arsenal.

Mane, who has only scored more Premier League goals against Crystal Palace (13) than he has against Arsenal (eight), netted the opener in the first half at Anfield, before Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino sealed an emphatic win for the Reds, who moved up to second place.

The Senegal forward's header came shortly after an altercation between the managers on the sidelines, after Mane had been involved in a collision with Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Arteta and his staff were furious, seemingly suggesting Mane had intentionally elbowed the Arsenal defender. Klopp retaliated, with some verbal tennis taking place between the pair before referee Michael Oliver came over to settle the fracas, booking both managers.

Asked about the incident by Sky Sports, Klopp said: "It was about the situation that it was no foul from Sadio but the Arsenal bench went up like it was a red card. I asked what they want in that situation.

"We had to take Sadio off against Atletico [Madrid in the Champions League] because they wanted him to get a yellow card.

"The referee did really well in this situation, I deserved a yellow card. It wasn't okay and that is what I said. It just happened in the moment."

Arteta, too, was asked for an explanation.

"He was defending his team, I was defending my team, that's it," he told Sky Sports. "It doesn't matter. These moments are left on the pitch."

Under Klopp, Liverpool have scored more Premier League goals against Arsenal (37) than one side has against another since October 2015.

They had their 25-game unbeaten run ended by West Ham last time out, but put the onus back on Manchester City, who will need to beat Everton on Sunday to go back into second behind leaders Chelsea.

"We grew into the game," Klopp added. "It was not always a super game it was just a controlled game. We had to find way to break them down. They were full of confidence. We found a way back in the game and it was a super performance all over.

"All the games are opportunities for us. It was an exceptional performance. We got better and better.

"We controlled the game in a good way and played exciting stuff in the right moments. It was a mixture of a mature and exciting performance. In games like this it's important you keep your opponent as far away from your goal as possible and be decisive in the other areas.

"This league is incredibly intense. Now the most intense part of the season is ahead of us. December and January will be insane. We have players coming back, but the boys who played today did really well and did exactly what they had to do. 

"It feels great because it was really good, we should never take something like this for granted. You have to fight through different phases in a game and in a season. It's another point from when we go on."

A 5-0 demolition by Manchester City at the end of August had Mikel Arteta hanging on to his job by a thread.

Everything pointed towards the Spaniard being one of the first – if not the first – Premier League managers to lose their job this season, with there being precious little sign of improvement from last season.

A run of 10 matches without a defeat followed, including a 3-1 win over rivals Tottenham and Arteta also won the Manager of the Month award for September. They even went into Saturday's trip to Anfield knowing a win would put them above Jurgen Klopp's men.

Whether they were caught believing the hype is up for debate, but what isn't is the fact they were utterly outclassed eventually by Liverpool, who dealt out a 4-0 defeat that put Arsenal firmly back in their place.

As you would've expected, Liverpool were the controlling force, though for the most part Arsenal looked content with how the match was progressing during the first half-hour – after all, their average of 46.8 per cent possession is their lowest seasonal record since Opta began collecting such data (2003-04), so they're used to having less of the ball.

That's not to say Liverpool didn't threaten, though. Aaron Ramsdale had to be alert to keep a Thiago Alcantara volley at bay and he then managed to tip Sadio Mane's follow-up effort around the post as the pair scrapped for the ball on the ground during an otherwise tame opening.

A flashpoint on the sidelines in the 33rd minute finally brought a little spice to proceedings, however, as Arteta and Klopp clashed following a collision between Mane and Takehiro Tomiyasu.

That seemed to increase the volume inside Anfield and it translated to greater intensity on the pitch, with Ramsdale producing fine saves to deny Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in a two-minute period soon after as the England goalkeeper continued to show the kind of decisiveness that has drawn him considerable praise in recent times.

But he was soon made to look culpable as Liverpool went in front, Mane heading in Trent Alexander-Arnold's free-kick with Ramsdale failing to keep it out despite the ball bouncing under him in a fairly central position relative to the posts.

Arsenal initially showed some invention at the start of the second period, with Emile Smith Rowe slipping a lovely pass in behind Virgil van Dijk for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, only for the Dutchman to make a fine last-ditch tackle to end the danger.

That was not a sign of things to come, however, as the Gunners fell right into Liverpool's trap with their insistence to play out from the back. 

Arsenal's possession share increased from 35.1 per cent in the first half to 55 per cent between the second-half resumption and the hour mark, and that brought Liverpool's biggest strength into play.

Klopp's men went into the weekend with a league-leading 122 high turnovers (when the ball is won within 40 metres of the opposition's goal) and it was during the early stages of the second half that they found their groove in this regard.

Alexander-Arnold even touched on it in his post-match interview with Sky Sports, saying: "The first 15, 20 minutes of the second half was probably as good as we've pressed this season. They continued to play out from the back and we were all over them. They were just seeing red blurs all over the place, and that's what we want."

The Reds' pressing was relentless in the Arsenal half and that forced the visitors into numerous mistakes – Albert Sambi Lokonga, Gabriel Magalhaes and Nuno Tavares were all guilty of being caught in possession inside their defensive third, with the latter seeing his error punished.

Tavares' loose pass just outside his own box was pounced on by Diogo Jota, and the Portugal star showed immense composure to casually saunter past Ramsdale and convert into an empty net.

For all the praise that's come Arsenal's way in recent times, Liverpool were providing a timely reminder that they remain some way behind the Premier League's best – and it still got worse for them.

Ramsdale produced another excellent stop to deny Jota a second, but it was only a matter of time until Liverpool got a third as they continuously broke into the spaces vacated by Arsenal.

Salah got a deserved goal as he nudged over the line after Mane raced beyond the Gunners' backline and crossed, with both then playing a major role as they made it 4-0.

Mane chased another ball over the Arsenal defence, this time courtesy of Jordan Henderson. He held the ball up, found Salah and he slipped Alexander-Arnold in to smash across goal for Takumi Minamino to bury with his first touch since coming on.

What was billed as Arsenal's first opportunity to show how much better they are since getting battered by City turned into another brutal mauling.

There's much to be optimistic about for Arsenal, given the young talent they have in their squad, but Liverpool brought them crashing back to reality here.

Mikel Arteta is unsure whether Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey will be fit for Arsenal's Premier League trip to Liverpool on Saturday.

The in-form Gunners travel to Merseyside without a win at Anfield since September 2012, but with the longest unbeaten run in the top flight of eight matches.

Captain Aubamayang has emerged as a doubt for the clash with the Reds after returning from international duty with Gabon early, while Ghana midfielder Partey's fitness is also a concern for the London club due to a muscle injury.

Asked about Aubamayang's early return, Arteta said on Friday: "No, it wasn't pre-planned, we have to assess him and see how he is and make a decision.

"We have a lot players who have been through some different games, issues, little injuries, so today we have to test everybody and see how we are to play tomorrow.

"Same again [for Partey], he could not play for the national team, he really tried to do that because they had a massive game and he really pushed for that one, but he wasn't close enough to do that. Again, it's something we have to assess today."

Liverpool's 3-2 defeat at West Ham before the international break ended their 20-game unbeaten run in the Premier League.

The Reds are unbeaten in nine at home in the top flight and Arteta is relishing the challenge of trying to secure a long-awaited win at Anfield.

"It is always a test, it is a fascinating stadium to play football in," said the former Everton midfielder. "You have to be at your best, and raise the level to your maximum standards, emotionally, physically, tactically, because if you don't you will be exposed.

"Going to Anfield is always a test, but if you are able to do that, there are not many grounds as good as there to feel that you are a proper footballer.

"You really feel as a footballer you are in a place where you really have to give your best and when you do, it's an incredible feeling, because you have overcome a really difficult and challenging situation.

"When you don't, like it has happened other times, after you feel regrets for things that you haven't done or you should have done differently, or you haven't approached the game in the right way. I think it's one of those places where you have to go there and believe on the day and show why you want to play football.

"I don't know [why we haven't won there more], obviously the quality of the opponent has a big say. It's not a coincidence that last year as well before we went to Old Trafford, it was I don't know how many years before we won at Stamford Bridge the same, but first of all you have to believe that you go there and that you can beat them, that's the first thing.

"If somebody is not with that mindset, they should not put the shirt on and go to Anfield tomorrow and then as I said you have to raise individually your game to your best, emotionally, physically, technically and tactically you have to be able to suffer in the right moments, because there’s going to be moments where you're going to have to do that and then as a team you have to have very clear ideas of what you're going to do on that pitch to beat that side."

Mikel Arteta described his players as "the most honest" after Claudio Ranieri accused them of a lack of respect following Arsenal's 1-0 win over Watford at Emirates Stadium.

The Watford head coach was unhappy that Arsenal did not give the ball back after it had been put out for an injury in the move that led to Emile Smith Rowe's decisive goal.

The result extended the Gunners' unbeaten run to 10 games across all competitions and marked Arteta's 100th game as Arsenal boss with a win.

Arteta issued a staunch defence of his squad's conduct, revealing that, if anything, he feels his side can occasionally be too honest.

"If I have to define my players, my team and my club, I would say that they are the most honest - all of them," Arteta said. "At some stages, we can even become naive.

"But still, if [Ranieri] feels like that towards our club, our team, I have to apologise if that's the case but, for sure that was not the intention to take any advantage."


Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed his second consecutive Premier League penalty, having missed only two of his first 11 in the competition, but Arteta still retains confidence in his skipper's ability from the spot.

"[Aubameyang] will stay on penalties if he is happy to do so," Arteta continued. "You will miss if you take penalties, that is part of your career and the job."

Smith Rowe's second-half strike earned Arsenal the three points, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles - starting in midfield in the absence of the injured Thomas Partey - put in an impressive performance as Arsenal extended their unbeaten run to 10 games in all competitions.

The 24-year-old was strongly linked with an exit in the most recent transfer window, even posting a message on social media indicating his desire to leave in search of regular minutes.

However, the Englishman was retained and Arteta is glad to have kept hold of the versatile Hale End graduate, saying he has seen a great deal of improvement from Maitland-Niles.

"First of all, I see a different player in terms of [Maitland-Niles'] urgency, his commitment, clarity in his play, his purpose," Arteta said. "We made a decision. I was clear, with what I was seeing, that I wanted him to stay because he was going to be useful.

"He has a huge talent which is that he is versatile enough to adapt to almost any position on the pitch. When I see him in training sessions, when I see how he prepares, when I see the questions he's asking, his level of attention - everything you talk through, his response is immediate.

"He's a really clever boy, a really intelligent boy and I think he has come a long way."

Kieran Tierney could be back for Arsenal's clash with Watford this weekend and Mikel Arteta is welcoming the selection dilemma that poses with the in-form Nuno Tavares.

Scotland full-back Tierney has not featured for the Gunners in their past three matches due to a bruised ankle and speaking after their 2-0 win over Leicester City last time out, boss Arteta did not sound confident of a return this weekend.

But Tierney has resumed training this week and may face the Hornets, though Arteta was reticent to confirm his availability for Scotland over the upcoming international break.

"Kieran has been training in the last two days. He's been feeling much better, so hopefully, he will be able to be available," Arteta said at a pre-match news conference.

On featuring for Scotland he added: "Let's see how he's feeling in the next few training sessions. 

"He's done bits with the team but hasn't fully trained yet, so in the next two days we will see where he is and how he's feeling."

In the absence of Tierney, Tavares – signed from Sporting CP for £8million in July – has excelled, and it is this sort of selection headache Arteta revels in.

"Hopefully we can have more of those dilemmas and we can have top players performing at the top level in many positions because that only raises the quality, the standards and the performance of the team," he said.

There were mixed emotions for Arsenal's English contingent this week, with goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale joining Bukayo Saka in the squad amid an impressive run of displays.

But attacking midfielder Emile Smith Rowe and centre-back Ben White were both surprise omissions by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate, despite a series of fine performances.

"Gareth has to make so many difficult choices and has got so many options. What I like is that our players are performing at a level that I'm sure they give problems to Gareth and the coaching staff," Arteta said.

"That's what pleased me. I know they have the level to do it and it will about the time or when the manager decides it is the right moment to select them.

"I think he [Smith Rowe] should be happy if people are gutted or if they're questioning the decision because it shows the level he's playing at. 

"Like anything in Emile's career, it will come in the right moment. We don't know if now is the right moment. Gareth knows much better than us how to judge what he thinks about the role he could have in that team. 

"If he's decided it wasn't the right moment, I'm sure it was a very thoughtful process and the right decision."

Ramsdale's form in particular has led to some suggestions he could usurp Jordan Pickford as England's first-choice goalie.

"Well, I'm really happy for him to see him back there. The rest are decisions that Gareth and the coaching team has to take," Arteta said.

"What Aaron needs to do is keep performing and be humble. The decisions are done by someone else."

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta welcomed another elite coach to England, as Antonio Conte joined rivals Tottenham, and declared this "the most competitive season the Premier League has ever had".

After Nuno Espirito Santo was sacked just 10 games into the Premier League season, with Spurs struggling in ninth, Conte was appointed this week.

The Italian has had title-winning success with Juventus, Chelsea and Inter, and his arrival would appear to change Tottenham's outlook for the season.

Conte has a 67 per cent win rate in the Premier League, trailing only Pep Guardiola (73 per cent) among those to take charge of at least 20 matches. Only Jose Mourinho (63) and Guardiola (69) took fewer games to reach 50 wins in the competition than Conte's 73.

Arteta, who has Arsenal unbeaten in nine in all competitions and sixth in the league table, was asked how Spurs' move for Conte might affect the Gunners' top-four ambitions.

"I think it's going to be for any team that is fighting for the top positions," he said. "There is still so many games to go and a lot of things are going to happen.

"You see games, performances and how things vary from one half to the other or moments in the game. That tells you the quality that there is in terms of players and managers as well."

Asked to comment on the "incredible" quality in the Premier League, Arteta replied: "It is [incredible], yeah. I can think of many, many more who are at top clubs who are world-leading managers.

"But I think it's really positive for our league because it raises the level, because he has new ideas and because it makes the competition even harder."

Indeed, the Spaniard believes the standard of England's top flight has never been better.

"I'm really happy to be where I am, enjoying this incredible league, the set-up, the atmosphere, the passion and everybody back to normality," he said.

"It's probably the most competitive season the Premier League has ever had."

 

Arteta will oversee his 100th match as Arsenal manager against Watford on Sunday, recording 53 wins in his first 99 games. His win percentage of 54 per cent just trails predecessors Unai Emery (55 per cent) and Arsene Wenger (57 per cent).

"[It has been] an incredible and quick journey where a lot has happened," Arteta said. "Not only in the football club but around the world that has a huge impact in everything that we've lived in the last two years.

"But I'm so privileged to be where I am and really enjoying the opportunity and challenge that we have ahead.

"I think we all update every year like every computer. With everything that has happened to us, even more so. I am different [from his first game], I see things different, you are involved in certain things. You keep evolving."

Mikel Arteta emphasised the importance of focus and consistency when asked about Aaron Ramsdale's chances of becoming first-choice England goalkeeper in time for the 2022 World Cup.

Ramsdale was the star of the show as Arsenal beat Leicester City 2-0 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, saving all eight of the hosts' shots on target to ensure first-half goals from Gabriel Magalhaes and Emile Smith Rowe secured the three points.

The 23-year-old's heroics saw his overall save percentage for the season improve to 85.7, which is bettered by only Edouard Mendy (89.7) among goalkeepers to have faced more than two shots.

On top of that, Ramsdale's saves cumulatively saw him prevent 2.4 goals against Leicester, according to Stats Perform's xGOT (expected goals on target) data – the next best record of any goalkeeper in a single Premier League game this season was Alisson preventing 1.7 against Norwich City.

It was the latest in a string of impressive performances from Ramsdale, who earlier this month backed himself to be England's go-to option ahead of Jordan Pickford between the posts by the time next year's World Cup rolls around.

While he was in their Euro 2020 squad, Ramsdale has not yet represented his country at senior level. Arteta thinks a prominent role in Qatar is not beyond him, but stressed the need to remain focused.

"I think when you dream big, it is always positive," Arteta said after the defeat of Leicester.

"Keep your feet on the ground, there are people who make those decisions, but he needs to be doing what he's doing every day.

"Train the way he trains, look after himself the way he does, have that mentality he has, and good performances. The rest will come."

Arsenal were widely ridiculed in August when it was revealed the deal to bring Ramsdale to the Emirates Stadium could cost them as much as £30million – he had suffered back-to-back relegations from the Premier League with Bournemouth and Sheffield United, while Emi Martinez had been thriving at Aston Villa after being sold for less.

But Ramsdale quickly dislodged Bernd Leno as Arteta's favoured goalkeeper and has impressed those at the club with his personality.

Arteta was keen to remind him that he cannot afford to start believing the hype, however.

"I think he has settled in a group that is very welcoming, has young energy and with humble senior players that accommodate you straight away," Arteta continued.

"Then Aaron's character, he's full of energy, he can transmit that energy and that passion and they have great chemistry between them.

"We invest money in talent and people we believe can be great for the future of the club. We made that decision based on that and Aaron has had some really encouraging performances, and today he had some incredible saves to maintain the clean sheet and he needs to continue to do that.

"In football you have to play 50 games for 20 years, and this is only the start."

Aaron Ramsdale was left revelling in the fact he saved "everything" during an inspirational performance as Arsenal beat Leicester City 2-0 on Saturday.

Arsenal were buoyed by two early goals as Gabriel Magalhaes and Emile Smith Rowe had them comfortably ahead inside 18 minutes, but from then Ramsdale was the key man.

A maligned pre-season arrival from Sheffield United, Ramsdale has dislodged Bernd Leno as Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper and showed why that is the case at the King Power Stadium.

He saved all eight of Leicester's shots on target, which improved his overall save percentage for the season to 85.7, which is bettered by only Edouard Mendy (89.7) among goalkeepers to have faced more than two shots.

Further to that, according to Stats Perform's xGOT (expected goals on target) data, Ramsdale's saves accumulatively saw him prevent 2.4 goals against Leicester. The next best record of any goalkeeper in a single Premier League game this season was Liverpool's Alisson preventing 1.7 against Norwich City.

The former England Under-21 international was understandably chuffed.

"Thankfully it was one of those afternoons that I contributed," he told BT Sport. "We should have had a few more clean sheets [this season] but I'm very happy with this one.

"It was a superb result away from home against a top team. We started really well and got two good goals."

The pick of his saves came in the first half as he tipped James Maddison's free-kick on to the crossbar and then got enough on Jonny Evans' follow-up effort to allow Nuno Tavares to clear off the line.

"Maddison is a top free-kick taker and I've come up against him a couple of times in the league and training for the [England] Under-21s," Ramsdale said.

"I was more worried that he would reverse it and come my side. He didn't have too much pace on it which allowed me to get there.

"It was just one of those days that I was saving everything that was thrown at me and the lads were blocking everything [else] – top day all-round."

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel lauded that Ramsdale save from Maddison's free-kick as the "best save I've seen in years", and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta seemingly agreed, admitting he thought Leicester had scored.

"Coming from someone like him [Schmeichel], [Ramsdale] should take it the right way because it's a big compliment," Arteta said.

"I've just seen the picture [of the save], incredible. When I was watching it, I said goal once, goal twice, and he saved them both.

"Those moments, those individual actions, performances, they're very necessary when you want some momentum and consistency in results, and we're getting a lot of them."

Mikel Arteta hailed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for leading from the front as the Arsenal captain adapts to a changing role from previous seasons.

Arsenal endured a tough start to the new Premier League term, losing their opening three games before responding with six wins from eight unbeaten games across all competitions.

Aubameyang has been key to their upturn in form, having been involved in five goals in his last six top-flight appearances (four goals, one assist) with the Gunners climbing into 10th.

The forward has operated in a more central role this campaign, as opposed to cutting in from the left flank, and has led the line effectively so far.

Indeed, Aubameyang (four) ranks second at the club for possession won in the final third, only behind Emile Smith-Rowe (nine), while also sitting fifth among club charts for chances created (eight).

Utilised as Arsenal's spearhead who leads the press, Arteta credited Aubameyang's willingness to adapt to his new role and praised the 32-year-old's leadership qualities.

"We had various conversations and obviously where you have a season where as a team we haven’t fulfilled our expectations, and individually we haven’t, we have to find the right reasons why," Arteta said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"How we can change that, how we can improve them, how we can help him to improve certain things that are going to have a huge impact on the team.

"And he’s been so willing to do that from the start. I am so pleased because again, his role is different to one that he had two or three years ago, and now he needs to lead in every sense – and he’s doing that and I’m really happy with him."

Aubameyang's finishing seems to have improved as well, given he has outscored his expected goals (3.08) in the Premier League after eight appearances with four strikes to his name.

Arteta also believes his experienced striker is enjoying his new role, which is producing results on and off the pitch.

"I think he is, and I think you can see it on the pitch," the Arsenal manager responded when asked if Aubameyang was enjoying himself.

"He’s playing with a smile on his face, he’s transmitting energy, passion, willingness – and not only that but outside the pitch as well.

"That’s what I want – a happy Auba leads with his character, and that’s what he’s able to transmit to everybody, and that energy is always positive."

Mikel Arteta insisted Arsenal "want to be the best" and claims that his side can improve in "every department" despite their positive recent form.

The Gunners lost their first three Premier League games of the season but have gone unbeaten in eight games across all competitions since then, winning six and drawing two.

Arsenal have also kept five clean sheets across that period, conceding just four goals and scoring 15 of their own, but Arteta is not satisfied with his side's progress and is convinced they can reach an even higher level.

"[We have improved by] going game by game, trying to improve every single game, trying to keep the spirit and the perspective in the right place when things are not working and the same when things are getting better," Arteta said ahead of Arsenal's Premier League clash with Leicester City. 

"There are still a lot of things to improve. We know that we don't want to be where we are, we want to be the best and to do that there are a lot of things that have to get better. 

"I think in every department we can get better. The use of the ball, the understanding of the game, how we manage situations, how we deal with moments of pressure.

"In everything, every department I think we still have a lot of improvements to make, but there are some basics that we are doing much better, which helps a lot in football matches."

The Arsenal manager refused to put a label on what the side need to achieve in terms of results in order to have a successful season, instead choosing to focus on how they can perform better in each game.

"I think to be successful we have to play well first," Arteta added. "We have to be dominant and we have to have the identity that we have in every single game and compete and be a really difficult team to beat and, if that happens, we will have a better chance.

"A consequence of that would be success, but I just focus on the process and what is in our hands to try together."

Arteta was also asked about 20-year-old centre-back William Saliba, who is on loan at Marseille from Arsenal and impressed in a 0-0 draw against a star-studded Paris Saint-Germain side in Ligue 1 on October 24.

In all competitions, Saliba ranks second for Marseille players in passes and pass accuracy into the final third (94, 89.92 per cent), fourth for completed dribbles and dribble success rate among players to have attempted more than one dribble (13, 72.22 per cent). 

The Frenchman is also third in all tournaments for tackles won (14) and has the best tackle success rate of any player to have completed more than five (82.35 per cent).

"Yes I [saw Sailba's performance]," Arteta continued. "We are always in touch. Edu and Ben [Knapper] the loans coach were there to watch him and to keep a close eye on him and the progress they are making. Obviously, he is our player and we do it with all the loan players we have.

"[Sailba staying at Arsenal and competing for a starting spot is] a decision we will make in the summer. He is our player and naturally, that will happen but we have to sit down in the summer and decide what the best step is next.

"I think there is room [for Saliba, Ben White and Gabriel]. It will depend on what happens with other players and that's not a conversation to have now."

Ben White limped off the field shortly after half-time of Arsenal's 2-0 EFL Cup victory over Leeds United, but it was illness rather than injury that forced his early departure. 

Mikel Arteta said the only reason the centre-back started Tuesday was because a bug circulating through the Arsenal dressing room left Pablo Mari unable to go. 

The same issue compelled the manager to remove White in the 55th minute, but Arteta said White should be fit for Saturday's Premier League fixture against Leicester City. 

"[Mari] was going to start and he couldn’t – he had a bug, something happened around here," Arteta told Sky Sports. "White wasn’t feeling great in the second half so we decided to take him off

Arteta added that White had been dealing with the same illness the previous few days but did what he could. 

White's departure proved fortuitous for Arsenal, as Calum Chambers came on to replace him and headed home the first goal of the game within seconds. 

Asked if he had ever had a substitute pay off that quickly, Arteta said "I don't think so." 

"I’m so happy in particular for Calum," he added. "He totally deserved it. It was a great moment because it helped us to win the game. He’s someone who deserves the best for who he is as a person and how he behaves as a professional."

 

Eddie Nketiah said he will continue to knuckle down at Arsenal to force his way into Mikel Arteta's Premier League plans.

The 22-year-old striker scored Arsenal's second in a 2-0 win over Leeds United in the EFL Cup fourth round on Tuesday, which took his tally to seven goals in eight appearances in the competition.

Nketiah, who had three shots with two on target in the match, has yet to feature in the league this season for the Gunners and is eager to press his claims with head coach Arteta.

"It is always nice to play, it’s obviously been a while," he told Sky Sports.

"I’ve been working hard, waiting for this opportunity. I was confident and ready and it’s always nice to score and help your team.

"We’re on a good run at the moment and it’s about continuing to work hard. We push each other every day in training and the results come in the match.

"I'm happy for the boys and it’s nice to get involved and contribute."

Nketiah said all of Arsenal's fringe players have to take their chance whenever they get them, especially given their recent upturn in form, which has seen them go eight games unbeaten in all competitions.

"That’s what we’re trying to do," Nketiah added.

"The manager picks the starting line-up but we have to work our hardest in training, and when we get the opportunities, we perform like we did today. I think everyone should be proud of themselves."

Arsenal's opening goal was scored by Calum Chambers who headed home just 24 seconds after he had come on as a substitute following an injury to Ben White.

The defender sprinted to celebrate with the Arsenal bench and one person in Arteta's backroom staff in particular after the ball was deemed to have crossed the line by goal-line technology.

"Our set piece coach Nico told me, 'you’re going to score from your first touch', so that’s why I went running over to him. It was a nice moment," Chambers said.

"I was pretty confident it went over, I saw the ball over the line so I was just waiting for the referee to give it. Luckily he did.

"It's always going to be tough against Leeds. They're a very unique team in the way that they play so you have to be on it, you have to be at it and we knew that going into the game. 

"We stood up to the test and came out with a win."

Chambers claimed Arsenal's players are determined to go as far as they can in the EFL Cup, which they last won in 1993, even though it is down the list of priorities for other clubs.

"Every competition is very important for Arsenal," he said, with the draw for the quarter-finals on Saturday.

"We want to be competing for silverware, so as I said it's good for players like us who want to prove a point and get back in the team and when we do, we need to take it. Every competition is important to us."

Arsenal booked their place in the EFL Cup quarter-finals after a 2-0 win over Leeds United thanks to goals from Calum Chambers and Eddie Nketiah.

Chambers headed Arsenal in front 10 minutes into the second half just moments after he had come on to the pitch as a substitute.

Nketiah scored Arsenal's second 14 minutes later when he capitalised on a weak ball back to Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier.

Leeds, who had chances of their own in the first half, were unable to find a response as Mikel Arteta's side saw out the game without further alarm.

Arsenal showed the early intent with Nketiah's shot going just wide while Sead Kolasinac struck the side netting with a low angled attempt.

Leeds weathered the spell of pressure and then had two chances of their own before the half hour; Daniel James tamely shot at Bernd Leno when sent clear before the German produced a superb diving save to keep out Jack Harrison's rasping half-volley.

Leno was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the remainder of the half as he saved a low deflected shot from James, and was relieved to see a Tyler Roberts shot fly wide.

Arsenal were dealt a blow shortly after the interval when Ben White limped off injured, but they soon had reason to celebrate when his replacement Chambers scored with his first touch.

A corner from Smith Rowe was nodded back across by Nicolas Pepe to Chambers who saw his header blocked by Meslier but goal-line technology deemed the ball had crossed the line.

Nketiah added a second with just over 20 minutes left when he latched on to a backward header from Liam Cooper, nudged the ball over the outrushing Meslier before he shinned it into the empty net.

The goal stifled any hope of a Leeds comeback as Arteta's men saw out the remainder of the game and secured their spot in the last eight.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has taken his game to the next level and "prefers" this version of the striker.

After a poor campaign by his standards in 2020-21, Gunners captain Aubameyang is the club's top scorer in the Premier League with four goals from eight appearances, but his manager has been equally as impressed with the 32-year-old's improved all-round game.

The Gabon forward ranks second at the club for possession won in the final third in the Premier League (four) behind only Emile Smith Rowe (nine).

Aubameyang has also outperformed his expected goals (xG) value of 3.08, suggesting his finishing has been above the standard that would be expected from the chances he has been presented with.

He ranks fifth in Arsenal's squad for chances created (eight), providing one assist from those opportunities. 

Arteta feels that Aubameyang is giving off an energy that he has never done before and is becoming a more complete player in the process.

"I have never seen Auba transmit what he is doing now," Arteta told Arsenal's official website ahead of Tuesday's EFL Cup tie with fellow Premier League side Leeds United, against whom Aubameyang netted a hat-trick last season.

"Apart from the goals, the celebration when they put the ball in the net, do you see the way he runs, the purpose he has to press the ball, and when he takes it his movement, his link, how is leading the game - that is when he is changing the rest, not when he is static and then he puts the ball in the net. I prefer this Auba.

"It is clicking. It is a combination of realising that his role has to go well beyond [scoring]. What was good, or very good, two or three years ago, with his role in this team, at this club, it is not enough. He had to take a step forward."

Arteta explained that both Aubameyang and fellow striker Alexandre Lacazette have a responsibility to lead a young squad on and off the field.

"I would say the same with Laca, look what he is transmitting, not just doing or playing, what he is transmitting," Arteta continued. "For me, that is really, really important.

"They lead by example and not only there but as well at the training ground. Certain things, a role they could have had three years ago in the squad, now it has changed.

"The group's age is a little bit closer [together] so they are experiencing most of the same things and they talk a lot about it. Then we have the senior players that they have to lead and they have to take that role, and they are doing that in a different way.

"There are players now that on that pitch that they are able to transmit something and change certain behaviours and attitudes in other players. That is contagious, and for me that is leadership."

Lacazette has played a bit-part role so far this season but was handed his first league start of the campaign as Arsenal beat Aston Villa 3-1, producing an impressive display despite not getting on the scoresheet himself.

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