Gunners ease Arteta’s concerns

Southampton 0-2 Arsenal

MIKEL ARTETA was relieved to see his Arsenal side return to winning ways after a frustrating return to Premier League action.

Back-to-back defeats at the hands of Manchester City and Brighton left huge question marks hanging over the Gunners mentality and application following the lengthy lay-off.

However, Eddie Nketiah sized on some questionable goalkeeping from Alex McCarthy, then Joe Willock was on hand to profit as the North Londoners returned to winning ways at the third attempt at Southampton.
The Saints misery was compounded when Jack Stephens was sent off for a challenge on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. However, it was an otherwise comfortable evening for Arteta’s men.

“We had two very difficult weeks with a lot of things that happened to us,” the Spaniard explained.

“I was concerned because after the defeat at Brighton where we threw the game away, it really touched the team. Confidence is everything in this game and we have to lift them up, but I could see yesterday that the reaction was really positive and they were really at it.

“We just demanded for them to play together, to enjoy competing with each other and defending each other as much as possible – then we would be fine. It was an important win for us.”

The Gunners chief highlighted his sides’ improved game management, adding: “We have to develop and we have to evolve as a team. There are a lot of things that we have to improve, we have to recognise and we have to probably go through in a negative way to learn. But they are so willing. They want to do it and the way they follow us is incredible.

“I never criticise the effort or how much they want it. I was a little bit critical about how we competed and how we gave the opponent points. That’s a disappointment.

“There are small details and I know we are a very, very young team with a lot of inexperience but in the Premier League, we have to manage these moments. We cannot play the same way for one hundred minutes, it’s not possible.”

Arsenal now turns their attention to the Emirates FA Cup, facing Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Sunday, June 28 (1pm).

Southampton: McCarthy, Valery (Walker-Peters 46’), Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand, Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Højbjerg (Vestergaard 90+1’), Armstrong, Ings (Romeu 90+1’), Obafemi (Long 46’) Subs not used: Adams, Smallbone, Gunn, Vokins, Tella

Arsenal: Martínez, Bellerín, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney (Kolasinac 70’), Ceballos (Maitland-Niles 80’), Xhaka, Saka, Pépé (Willock 64’), Nketiah (Lacazette 79’), Aubameyang Subs not used: Papastathopoulos, Özil, Nelson, Willock, Kolasinac, Macey, Smith

Referee: Graham Scott
Assistants: Simon Long and Derek Eaton
Fourth official: Simon Hooper

(Quotes courtesy of Arsenal Football Club)

Brian Jeeves

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