Mikel Arteta says Arsenal cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves after his side made unwanted club history with their defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.

The Gunners went down 2-0 to their London rivals at Emirates Stadium through first-half goals from returning Blues striker Romelu Lukaku and lively wing-back Reece James.

Arsenal lost their opening Premier League game of the season to Brentford by the same scoreline, making it the first time in their 118-year history in England's top four tiers they have opened a campaign with two defeats from two without scoring.

It is also the first time the north London side have ended a day in the relegation zone with more than one game played since August 1992, with the pressure growing on manager Arteta after spending a reported £129million on new recruits.

The Spaniard accepts Arsenal can have no complaints with the defeat to Chelsea and has called for a swift response from his side when they face West Brom in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, three days before travelling to Manchester City.

"Chelsea were the better team. When they play at their best, which I think they did today, they are champions of Europe, have world-class players and to match at that level is difficult," Arteta told Sky Sports.

"You can always do things better. In the first half it took us a long time to regain the ball in wide areas. We conceded two goals but the way the team responded and the crowd never gave up, it gave us hope in the second half.

"I see a lot of positives with the crowd. The way they supported the team from the beginning. I saw a good reaction. It is one of the difficult moments. The circumstances are difficult and unprecedented. 

"Feeling sorry for yourself doesn't help. You have to win football matches, keep it together and show spirit. Starting tomorrow in training with the players who did not play. We need to win the game midweek and that will help against City next weekend."

The defeat for Arteta was his 20th as Arsenal manager in the Premier League in what was his 60th match, compared to 20 defeats in his first 116 matches in the competition for legendary Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal's preparations for Arteta's second full campaign in charge have been hampered by five players testing positive for coronavirus, with big-money signing Ben White the latest to be ruled out of the Chelsea match after testing positive.

And Arteta believes his side can turn things around once they return to full strength, though the Spaniard confirmed he does not expect White to be available for selection at the Etihad Stadium.

"It's really challenging at the moment. We're missing nine players and the majority of them are big senior players," he said at his post-match news conference.

"The players we put out are trying their best but at the moments it's not enough to win football matches. We try to explain when we can what we are facing but the expectation for this club is always that we will win. 

"When the players are back and they will need some time to get back as well, hopefully it can be different. The good thing is the narrative in football changes really quickly."

Arsenal squandered their only big chance against Chelsea when Rob Holding headed wide on the hour mark, but the hosts had a big penalty appeal rejected in the first half when James tangled with Bukayo Saka in the box.

Asked if he felt his side should have been awarded a penalty, Arteta replied: "Yes. Clear."

Record signing Romelu Lukaku returns for his second Chelsea debut against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Having last appeared for the Blues during the 2013-14 campaign, Thomas Tuchel hands Lukaku his first start since he rejoined the club and leaves Timo Werner on the bench for the Premier League clash.

The Belgium forward, who netted 24 goals in 36 Serie A appearances to fire Inter to the Scudetto last term, will be joined by Mason Mount and Kai Havertz for support up top.

Christian Pulisic misses out due to COVID-19 with Havertz taking his place, while Reece James replaces Trevoh Chalobah, meaning Cesar Azpilicueta moves back to centre-back.

Behind the visitors' three-man defence, Edouard Mendy retains his place - the former Rennes goalkeeper keeping the most clean sheets in the Premier League (10) since Tuchel's appointment in January.

Chelsea are looking for their fifth consecutive away London derby league victory, last achieving such a feat under Jose Mourinho between January 2005 and January 2006.

However, Mikel Arteta's men were victorious in both fixtures last term, though they have not won three in a row in the competition since February 2004.

Arsenal are without Ben White, who misses out through COVID-19, so Rob Holding comes in at centre-back.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who tested positive for coronavirus prior to the defeat to Brentford last weekend, returns and is listed among the substitutes, but Alexandre Lacazette and Willian are both out after their positive tests.

New addition Martin Odegaard is not in the squad, but Arteta's other midweek signing Aaron Ramsdale makes the bench.

Mikel Arteta reckons Arsenal must be "perfect" to beat Chelsea on Sunday as he looks to get the north London club back among the Premier League challengers.

The Gunners started the new top-flight campaign in lacklustre fashion, going down to promoted Brentford 2-0 in the opening game.

A derby with Thomas Tuchel's side is next up and, after defeating Chelsea 3-1 in the same fixture last term, Arteta knows what it will take to be successful again at Emirates Stadium.

"What we have to do is perform, perform at the highest level," he replied when asked in a pre-match media conference if a draw would be a positive result.

"We know that to beat Chelsea we need to be perfect.

"Individually and collectively, we have to have an extraordinary game. The focus is going to be that."

Arsenal also triumphed 1-0 at Stamford Bridge towards the end of the previous season, too. They have not won three in a row against Chelsea in the league since a successful run between January 2003 and February 2004.

While Chelsea could be buoyed on by their record signing Romelu Lukaku making his return, Arteta has added Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale to his squad.

Asked whether spending money came with added pressure, Arteta made clear it is all part of the long-term planning at the club to get them back contending again.

"We are a football club that tries to make the right decisions and move forward," the Spaniard said.

"It’s never been down to me. When we have success, titles, or when we have difficulties, it's down to us with me here, and it will be like this in the future.

"What we want to do is bring this club back to where it was. We are going to do that, the timing of it is a little more complicated than people think, but the aim is to do that.

"The only aim going into all matches is to win, nothing else. Achieving that as quickly as possible is the only objective we have."

Mikel Arteta does not believe the return of Martin Odegaard will hamper Emile Smith Rowe's progress, instead believing the move is important to "protect" Arsenal's number 10.

Arsenal announced two new signings on Friday, with Odegaard followed to Emirates Stadium by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Odegaard is already familiar with his surroundings, though, having spent the second half of the 2020-21 season on loan from Real Madrid.

During that time, he started just eight times alongside Smith Rowe in all competitions, although Arsenal won five of those matches.

Now back as a permanent signing, there could be concern Odegaard will limit opportunities for Smith Rowe, who has penned an improved contract and taken on a more prominent role for the new season following interest from Aston Villa.

While the pair are similar players, Odegaard is further ahead in his development and had a greater impact in the final third last term.

He created 2.1 chances and had 1.6 shots per 90 minutes, while Smith Rowe forged 1.7 opportunities and had 0.8 attempts.

But this issue was put to Arteta and he was not concerned, citing Smith Rowe's relative inexperience having made his senior league bow with RB Leipzig in 2019 – five years after Odegaard broke into the Stromsgodset side as a 15-year-old.

"It's the contrary," the Gunners manager said. "What we want is to have Emile in a better place to develop him and have alternatives in that position.

"They are players that can play perfectly together – they showed that last year – and we cannot rely on one player. We already lost a lot of creative players.

"We cannot rely on one player with all the things he showed us, because Emile has never played 50 games at that level yet in his career.

"We will need to protect him and, for sure, we need other players that are able to do that as well."

Mikel Arteta was "surprised" the Premier League gave Arsenal's opening game against Brentford the go-ahead after several of his squad tested positive for coronavirus prior to the fixture.

The Gunners, who lost the game 2-0 last Friday, were without strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexndre Lacazette in addition to playmaker Willian and back-up goalkeeper Alex Runarsson, all of whom were self-isolating.

Lacazette and Runarsson will again be missing for Arsenal's clash against Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, although Aubameyang has returned to training while Willian is being assessed.

The Premier League does not have specific thresholds for a number of coronavirus cases to force a fixture postponement, but Aston Villa rearranged matches last season after their squad was hit by a significant number of cases. 

"I was surprised but the regulations or the regulators decided the best thing to do was play the game," Arsenal head coach Arteta said.

“What we did is what we had to do, through the club, through the club doctor as well. He explained the situation, how it developed and the risk that we considered.

"We had an incredible 48 hours before the match which created a big uncertainty. It was probably an unprecedented Arsenal line-up."

Arteta said most his players have now been jabbed against COVID-19 but indicated it was not mandatory for the players.

"Most of them are double vaccinated. Others they have one vaccine," he added.

"We are trying to encourage them to get vaccinated because they are going to protect themselves, their families, obviously the environment around the club."

Mikel Arteta was left concerned by Arsenal's lack of a cutting edge after they started the new Premier League season with a disappointing 2-0 defeat away at Brentford.

The Gunners had 22 shots but managed to get just four on target on Friday, though their cause was not aided by the absences of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette due to illness.

Folarin Balogun was handed a first league start but was substituted after 59 minutes, by which time Arsenal were already behind following Sergi Canos' first-half opener.

Worryingly, Arteta saw his team then concede a second from a long throw, Christian Norgaard heading in to seal a famous result for Brentford. In contrast, Arsenal have much to work on ahead of a home game against Chelsea next.

"It's very different to how we wanted to start the season," Arteta told Sky Sports.

"We didn’t start well in the first half. We conceded a goal in an isolated action, we didn't cope well enough with the long ball for the second goal.

"We conceded the second one from a long throw, then the biggest worry was the threat we had in front of goal, how many times we arrived in great situations but not enough threat, not enough shots on target.

"If you don't do those things in the Premier League, it is going to be difficult to win.

He added: "We weren't good enough to beat them. To do that, you need to do certain basics right and we didn't.

"In the box, we need more threat, as much as possible. When we get in these positions, we must be more ruthless."

Arteta felt goalkeeper Bernd Leno was held during the long-throw situation that led to Brentford's second.

The Spaniard said: "They put somebody on the keeper, they can hold him and it's no free-kick. The keeper cannot move, the ball lands and then it's a goal. That is allowed in the Premier League."

In contrast, Brentford boss Thomas Frank was able to take great delight in an unforgettable occasion for a club he jokingly described as "just a bus stop in Hounslow" in reference to a fan chant.

"The fans were amazing, what an atmosphere," said Frank. "First time in the top flight, opening the Premier League season, we are number one in the table, it’s a fantastic story.

"We're just a bus stop in Hounslow – we're not supposed to be here!"

Brentford's second goal came from an area Frank hoped they could exploit against Arsenal, who had handed a debut to new signing Ben White at centre-back.

"On set-pieces we thought we were better, that's why we did the long throws," he said. "We also thought there was a chance we could get high, that we could win the ball and create chances.

"I think today the players deserve the praise and to celebrate a bit. It's been a hard pre-season, you can see that they were fit and could run."

Brentford enjoyed a winning start to life in the Premier League as goals from Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard downed Arsenal 2-0 on the opening night of the new season.

The Bees finally secured top-flight status via the Championship play-offs at the end of last term and, just as boss Thomas Frank had promised, did not change their style to cope with the step up.

Canos' opener came midway through a first half when the hosts pressed and passed impressively, much to the delight of a raucous home crowd making the most of the chance to watch their team again inside the Community Stadium.

In contrast, this was a nightmare for Mikel Arteta on Friday the 13th. The absences of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette – both through illness – did not help, but new recruit Ben White was part of a defence that conceded a second via a long throw.

Arsenal had 66.5 per cent possession over the opening 15 minutes but their early dominance dissipated as the contest wore on, the visitors at times penned in by their relentless opponents.

Having already hit the outside of the post from a tight angle, Bryan Mbeumo failed to show the required composure after excellent footwork created another opportunity before the break, scuffing his shot wide of the target.

However, Brentford did get the goal their positive approach merited thanks to Canos, who cut in off his team's left flank to fire through Calum Chambers' legs and beat Bernd Leno at the near post.

The ever-lively Emile Smith-Rowe was denied by goalkeeper David Raya as Arsenal improved after the break, though any hopes of a comeback were dashed as a worryingly soft centre was exposed at a set-piece situation.

Mads Bech Sorensen's throw-in delivery evaded several Gunners at the front post and bounced through to Norgaard, who showed the determination lacking from Arsenal's defenders to nod in and seal a debut win.

 

Mikel Arteta is unsure whether Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will rediscover his best form in 2021-22.

Aubameyang signed a huge £250,000 per week contract at Emirates Stadium in September 2020 but then failed to live up to his billing as the Gunners slumped to eighth in the Premier League last term.

The former Borussia Dortmund forward endured by far the worst season of his Premier League career, contributing 10 goals along with three assists.

His 13 goal involvements were his fewest in a single campaign in England, including 2017-18 when he joined in the January and tallied 10 goals and four assists.

Aubameyang has turned 32 since the end of 2020-21 and it was put to manager Arteta on Thursday that this could be the start of an extended slump.

Arteta could not rule out that possibility but is waiting to see how the Gabon international performs as fans return this year to hopefully spell a more normal season.

"I don't know – last season and everything that happened individually, collectively around the club for everybody, it was difficult to measure if that's a trend or a one-off," Arteta said ahead of Arsenal's opening game against newly promoted Brentford on Friday.

"Our job is to help the players get the best that they have, and we know that with [Aubameyang] we are stronger.

"He scores goals and that's one of the most important things in this game."

Aubameyang declined in several areas of his game last season, although it was his profligacy in front of goal that caused most concern.

The striker's conversion rate fell to 17.5 per cent, ranking 13th among the 27 players to score 10 or more – a list he had topped when netting with 32.3 per cent of shots in his first half-season at Arsenal.

Aubameyang was still ahead of Harry Kane, the division's top scorer, in this regard, but his average of 2.2 attempts per 90 minutes represented another worrying low despite taking more touches in the opposition box (4.8 per 90) than a year earlier (4.4 touches, 2.7 shots, 22 goals).

As a result, his number of 'big chances' – situations where the player would reasonably be expected to score – dropped from 0.8 to 0.5 per 90.

And Aubameyang was actually slightly fortunate to reach double figures.

Although he marginally underperformed his expected goals total of 10.2, his expected goals on target value – which measures the quality of the shot rather than the quality of the chance – of 7.8 spoke to his below-par finishing.

At the other end of the pitch to Aubameyang, it appears Arsenal are still attempting to add to their options, with the Gunners having reportedly lodged a £24million bid for Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Those reports emerged on Wednesday but were swiftly shot down by Blades boss Slavisa Jokanovic, who insisted Ramsdale is not for sale.

"I don't have any intention to sell him," said Jokanovic on Thursday. "He will be in my starting 11 for the next game.

"He is a very good keeper and I am really happy working with him. He's a really expensive keeper too."

Ramsdale moved to the Blades from Bournemouth in 2020.

Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey will miss the start of the Premier League season, including matches with Chelsea and Manchester City, due to injury.

The Ghana international suffered ankle ligament damage in the friendly loss to Chelsea last week and is not expected to return to training for three weeks.

Partey is therefore set to miss the Gunners' league opener at Brentford on Friday, as well as the meeting with Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on August 22 and the visit to champions City six days later.

He will also miss the EFL Cup second-round match with West Brom on August 24.

Striker Eddie Nketiah, who sustained bruising to his right ankle in the Chelsea friendly, is expected to be sidelined for a month.

It remains unclear when Gabriel will return, the defender having injured his knee while representing Brazil at the Tokyo Olympics.

With Arsenal's squad having been depleted, manager Mikel Arteta was asked on Thursday about the prospect of more signings before the transfer window closes.

The Gunners have already spent in the region of £75million to bring in Ben White from Brighton and Hove Albion, Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht and Nuno Tavares from Benfica.

They have been linked with a move for Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to provide competition for Bernd Leno, and Inter forward Lautaro Martinez, but Arteta was not forthcoming on details.

"In this first period of the transfer window, I think we've done a few things that we wanted to do and that are going to help us get the squad in a much better place," he told reporters.

"There is still window to go, so I'm sure things will happen in a way. I'm willing to work with the players I have at the moment and get the best out of them. We will see what we can do.

"We have ownership that they are willing to invest in the team and they want to get the team better with bigger aims. But at the same time we need to be careful because we want to be in a financial position that is sustainable for the club."

Emile Smith Rowe will wear the number 10 shirt for Arsenal in 2021-22, with the midfielder having also agreed to a new contract.

Smith Rowe enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2020-21, with the 20-year-old making 33 appearances across all competitions.

In total, Smith Rowe scored four goals and contributed seven assists, the latter being a joint-high for Arsenal alongside Willian and fellow academy graduate Bukayo Saka.

Smith Rowe's big chance conversion rate of 60 per cent (3/5) also ranked him top of Arsenal's squad last term (minimum of two big chances).

Though it was his creativity that made Smith Rowe so effective. His 37 open-play key passes was only bettered by Kieran Tierney (41) and Saka (39) in the Gunners side, though both of them played at least 700 more minutes than him. The midfielder's 1.5 chances created per game was second only to Martin Odegaard (2.2 – minimum 100 minutes played).

However, his future had not been certain. With Arsenal reportedly looking to make Odegaard's move from Real Madrid permanent, Aston Villa had seen a series of bids rejected for Smith Rowe earlier in the transfer window.

But with Odegaard seemingly unobtainable, Arsenal have now tied Smith Rowe down to a new deal, though the Gunners did not specify the length of the contract.

Smith Rowe has also been given the number 10 shirt, which was last occupied by Mesut Ozil – the number is perhaps best associated in recent memory with Dennis Bergkamp, who was integral to Arsene Wenger's early success in north London.

"Everyone knows that No.10 is a big shirt and it is definitely a big position as well," Smith Rowe, who previously wore the number 35, told Arsenal's official website.

"So I'm buzzing to be honest, I can't wait to get on the pitch. It's really special – I can't explain the feeling when I found out. I've not really got the words to explain it right now!

"The legends that have played here and have worn the shirt… it's a bit too much right now but I'm sure I will calm down after a while. When I was younger I used to watch Dennis Bergkamp, and when I was going through the academy Mesut Ozil was here as well and getting the opportunity to train with him and play with him as well was unbelievable.

"I just want to keep working hard and hopefully I can play like them and replicate what they've done."

Mikel Arteta added: "As we all saw last season, Emile is an intelligent player with excellent ability. His sharpness on the turn and exceptional vision have already made him a key player for us.

"His attitude and willingness to learn have also been very impressive. Huge credit to our team in our academy who have given Emile a great education and have worked superbly to help with his development through the age groups."

Smith Rowe's signing follows on from Arsenal making two additions already this month, with Nuno Tavares having joined from Benfica and Albert Sambi Lokonga coming in from Anderlecht.

Arsenal were scheduled to appear in the Florida Cup – a pre-season tournament in Orlando – next week, but have withdrawn due to a COVID-19 outbreak within their camp.

Arsenal have withdrawn from their US tour following a number of positive COVID tests among the planned party which was set to depart on Thursday.

The Gunners were due to participate in the Florida Cup with games against Inter on July 25 and Everton or Millonarios on July 28 in Orlando.

Arsenal said in a statement that the "difficult decision" was based on ensuring the health and wellbeing of the club's players and staff.

"We fully understand what a disappointment this is for our supporters in America who were looking forward to seeing us compete in the Florida Cup as part of our pre-season build up," the statement said.

"Our apologies also go to the organisers of the Florida Cup who had done a fantastic job making the preparations and our partners who had arranged events around our participation in the competition.

"We are glad to say the members of staff are not currently displaying any COVID symptoms. They are now in self-isolation at home.

"We are now making alternative arrangements in line with the Premier League protocols to continue our preparations for the new season."

Arsenal, who drew with Rangers 2-2 and lost 2-1 to Hibernian last week in Scotland, are due to commence their Premier League season on August 22 against Brentford.

Mikel Arteta has bolstered his squad with the additions of Nuno Tavares from Benfica and Albert Sambi Lokonga from Arsenal this off-season.

David Luiz has been released while William Saliba and Matteo Guendouzi have both been loaned to Olympique Marseille.

 

Albert Sambi Lokonga's football intelligence can be a huge asset to Arsenal after the Belgium Under-21 international won the admiration of a Premier League great.

Mikel Arteta made Lokonga his second signing of the close season on Monday - the Gunners wrapping up a deal reported to be worth an initial £15million with Anderlecht.

Lokonga was coached by Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht and Arteta, who worked with the ex-Manchester City captain when he was part of Pep Guardiola's staff, did the expected background work on the highly rated midfielder.

"Albert is a very intelligent player who has shown great maturity in his performances during his development," Arteta told his club's official website.

"He has been coached well by Vincent Kompany and his team at Anderlecht. I know Vincent very well and he talks so highly about Albert and the positive impact he had to Anderlecht in recent seasons.

"We're confident Albert's ready for the next stage in his development and we’re looking forward to welcoming a new member to our squad with his quality and presence."

Lokonga made his Belgian Pro League debut in December 2017 and Opta statistics from his performances since then measure up well to those produced by Arsenal players over the same period.

Noted for his ability to play in front of the defence, the 21-year-old made 115 tackles and won 77 in 69 league appearances.

Somewhat predictably, Granit Xhaka is the only Arsenal player to have racked up more – 195 tackles and 114 won – during this time, although the Switzerland star did so over 111 games.

Lucas Torreira, who spent last season on loan at Atletico Madrid, perhaps provides a better point of comparison. In 63 Premier League games for the Gunners, the combative Uruguay international made 98 tackles and won 70.

Of Arsenal outfield players to have featured in 30 or more league games since December 2017, only the now departed Shkodran Mustafi (64.29 per cent) has a better duel success rate than Lokonga (60.7).

Overall, he has won possession 414 times – again a figure only bettered by Xhaka on 746, with Torriera (327) off the pace set by the new signing.

Lokonga is also accomplished in possession, with 86.1 per cent passing accuracy and 67 chances created in the top-flight for Anderlecht suggesting he is not afraid of operating in a progressive manner on the ball.

Xhaka, while continuing to bear in mind his greater game time, has made 94 key passes during the time in question, with attackers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the only other current Arsenal players to have supplied more.

Mikel Arteta confirmed Arsenal are on the verge of a transfer breakthrough after his team were held 2-2 by Rangers in their second pre-season friendly.

Nuno Tavares, the left-back acquired from Benfica, scored on his first Arsenal appearance, and striker Eddie Nketiah also netted in the draw at Ibrox.

Arsenal are thought to be close to bringing in centre-back Ben White from Brighton and Hove Albion for a fee that could be close to £50million, as Arteta looks to strengthen his defence.

An announcement of that deal may come before Arsenal head off to the United States on Wednesday for a training camp in Florida, although it has been reported that White is currently on holiday.

"We're going to have some new faces arriving probably, so very positive," Arteta said after his team's run-out in Glasgow.

White won his first two England caps last month in warm-up games for Euro 2020, and he could provide the sort of defensive leadership that Arsenal have lacked in recent seasons.

Arteta was largely impressed by Arsenal on Saturday but hinted at disappointment about the way they allowed Rangers to get on the scoresheet.

"Overall I'm really pleased with the performance. I think we dominated the game, we created so many chances – I counted about eight or 10 clear chances to score – but this game is decided in both boxes," the Arsenal manager told his club's website.

"We weren't clinical in the opponent's box and we conceded two goals from two corners, which were the only chances they had apart from the counter-attack from our own corner."

Mikel Arteta said Arsenal could not use their pre-season physical condition as an excuse for the 2-1 friendly defeat to Scottish outfit Hibernian.

Martin Boyle and Daniel Mackay put the Scottish side 2-0 up at Easter Road in Edinburgh, before Nicolas Pepe missed a penalty for Arsenal.

Emile Smith Rowe pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute but Arsenal could not find an equaliser, meaning their hopes of making a fast start ahead of the new campaign took a blow.

Asked whether a lack of training might explain the loss, Arteta said: "It does but there's no excuse because we want to come here and win the match.

"They worked really hard, the boys worked really hard and you could see that some of them were not in the best condition, but we're still very early in pre-season. It was great to see some of the young lads making their debuts here. We'll keep working."

Arteta's team finished eighth in the Premier League last season, meaning they missed out on a place in Europe for the upcoming campaign.

It means a blow to their income but Arsenal may benefit from having midweeks available for training rather than travelling, with Arteta still looking to impose his methods after a tough first full season in charge.

He brought his team to Scotland with the aim of getting not only physical tests under their belt but wins, alongside the training.

"Well I'm always disappointed when we lose a football match but it is the first game, we played with many kids and we only had four training sessions," Arteta said, quoted on Arsenal's official website.

"We've trained really hard and you could see that the players were a little bit leggy. I think we conceded the first goal, an accident, and the second goal was clearly offside. We created many, many chances but we didn't score.

"That's what pre-season is for, to take the things that we haven't done well into a training session and then improve."

Pepe's penalty miss came as a surprise, with Arsenal having been proficient from the spot over the 2020-21 season, converting all eight of their spot-kicks.

Pepe scored two of those, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also netted twice and Alexandre Lacazette converted four of four in the last campaign.

Kieran Tierney has signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal after catching the eye as a leading light in an under-performing team.

The Scotland defender has impressed since joining from Celtic in a £25million deal two years ago, particularly picking up form over the past 12 months.

Mikel Arteta's team finished a disappointing eighth in the Premier League last season, and the Spanish manager is likely to be active in the transfer market before the new campaign, with players leaving as well as arriving.

But the new deal for left-back Tierney, widely reported to be a five-year commitment, means his future is at Emirates Stadium.

Tierney said in an interview on Arsenal's Facebook page: "It feels amazing. First, it was the manager who came to me and said, 'We want you to extend your deal'.

"I had a hard first season with injuries and COVID and stuff, but last season it really picked up for me and the club have been brilliant with me so I'm more than happy to extend it, delighted.

"The vision of the club and where it wants to go and the expectations of the club is where I want to be in football. There's no doubt about it, we're not where we want to be just now, but we're going in the right direction.

"The confidence the manager's given me... when I spoke to him after I signed this contract I said, 'Thank you so much'.

"He took me when my confidence was at my lowest for sure - 100 per cent the lowest my confidence has felt - after my injury, moving away from home. I was so low and he's picked me up, he helped me, him and his staff."

Tierney has already made 62 appearances for Arsenal, winning the FA Cup in 2020, and the 24-year-old brings attacking qualities that complement his defending, creating 31 chances for others in 27 league outings last season.

That was the highest number among Arsenal defenders, and only twice in the past 15 years has a Gunners defender created more scoring opportunities (Hector Bellerin 33 in 2017-18, Gael Clichy 32 in 2008-09).

Of those he created last term in the league, five were defined as 'big chances' by Opta, while Tierney also won possession 115 times, one of three Arsenal defenders to hit triple figures in that metric (Rob Holding 138, Gabriel Magalhaes 118).

Coming off a group-stage exit with Scotland at Euro 2020, Tierney can find solace in his club seeing him as a cornerstone of their future.

Arteta said: "This is great news for us today. As manager of the club, speaking on behalf of the coaching staff and the entire staff, it's a pleasure to work with KT. His quality, energy, commitment and professionalism, not only on matchdays, but every day in training are always at such a high level.

"KT gives us so much extra strength both defensively and offensively and it's great to know that he'll be with us for the long term. Since his move from Celtic, his work ethic and quality has ensured that he is already one of most exciting players in the Premier League and a hugely important part of our team, both on and off the pitch."

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