Mikel Arteta didn’t hold back when he talked about what Arsenal did wrong against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Arteta was asked if Arsenal had sat back, again, after taking the lead. He did not think they did.
“No, I think we were sloppy in possession,” Arteta said.
“We gave the ball away to the opponent, and we had no pressure there. That created strong momentum that allowed them to run, and they had the structure to play – and suddenly we started to give the ball away.
“So many unforced errors that led to them having belief that they could do something in the game. I didn’t see a team with the handbrake, I saw a team that wanted to impose (themselves) here. They were dominant, we played with the right structure and the right freedom at the same time.
“But we didn’t defend our box well enough well, and manage some situations well enough to concede the way did.”
Arteta was then asked how he stops them from dropping off after they score. “Well I don’t know,” he replied rather worryingly.
“It’s very difficult because when you are in [possession of] the ball, you have to make decisions – and I want to encourage them to do what they feel. But you know against those teams you get punished immediately, with the quality and amount of players that they can play (against) you straight away.”
Arsenal managed to take the lead through a bizarre goal that Martin Atkinson would have ruled out had he had the chance.
The difference between the teams on the night was that VAR afforded United a replay of Fred winning a Pires-style penalty while Arsenal were denied one when Takehiro Tomiyasu was hauled down in the box by Harry Maguire.