‘We stopped playing’: Arteta criticises Arsenal after lead is lost at West Ham | Arsenal

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‘We stopped playing’: Arteta criticises Arsenal after lead is lost at West Ham | Arsenal

‘A huge mistake’: Arteta admits Arsenal took their eye off the ball at West Ham – video


  • Title-chasers let slip 2-0 lead for second week in a row
  • Arteta: ‘When game is there for the killing, you have to do it’

Mikel Arteta criticised Arsenal’s mentality after they threw away a two‑goal lead at West Ham in a significant blow to their title hopes, accusing them of lacking purpose and killer instinct having cruised through the opening half-hour.

In a frank dissection of his team’s display, which was by some distance their worst of the season from the moment Saïd Benrahma’s 33rd‑minute penalty changed the afternoon’s dimension, Arteta said Arsenal had missed the ruthlessness required to make sure of a result that looked nailed on in the early stages. When Martin Ødegaard added to Gabriel Jesus’s opener in the 10th minute it seemed a question of how many they would score.

“We made a huge mistake to stop playing with the same purpose to score the third and fourth one and just thinking we could play around them and maintain the result and just looked too easy,” Arteta said. “At that moment we gave them hope. Credit to West Ham, they took it.’

The Arsenal manager suggested his players, who had also led 2-0 at Liverpool seven days previously before being pegged back, are shy of the mental edge needed to deny opponents the scent of a comeback. “We need that ruthless mindset in those moments to go and kill a team. When the game is there for the killing you have to do it. Today we haven’t done it.”

Although he pointed to differences between the two squandered leads, Arteta admitted it is a concern that no lessons had visibly been learned from the dropped points at Anfield. “For sure, because we’re here to win. When you’re able to play at that level (raises his hand high) and you drop your level so quickly (drops hand towards the floor) the game is there. Any opponent is going to be able to do that. For sure we have to dig really deep and find the solutions to that.”

Jarrod Bowen celebrates his equaliser for West Ham. Photograph: Simon Dael/Shutterstock

Game management remains a worry for Arsenal, who are now only four points clear of a Manchester City side that have a game in hand and host Arteta’s team on 26 April.

“My worry is after 2-0 that we made that huge mistake and didn’t understand what the game required in the moment,” Arteta said. The error in question was a lax flick from Thomas Partey, which led to Gabriel Magalhães fouling Lucas Paquetá. Arsenal’s players beat a similar refrain to their manager. “Exactly after we scored the second goal we stopped,” Jesus said. “We gave them hope and that’s on us,” Ødegaard agreed. “We started to do a lot of stupid things on the ball.”

Nonetheless Arsenal would probably have been home and dry had Bukayo Saka not put a penalty wide two minutes before Jarrod Bowen’s equaliser. Arteta said the forward’s miss, his first from the spot since the Euro 2020 final, was nothing out of the ordinary for a regular taker and that he would ask Saka to take any penalty Arsenal are awarded against Southampton on Friday.

“If you are prepared to take responsibility for penalties, you have to be prepared that in that package the possibility to miss is 100%,” he said. “At some point you’re going to miss. That’s it. You have to be able to react to that after. If you cannot do that then you cannot be a penalty taker. Bukayo has been through that and he will go through that again. If I had to pick one player to do it, it would be him again. In that moment we missed it and this is football.”

David Moyes savoured a West Ham display that he admitted looked doomed soon after the start but became reminiscent of their better offerings during his tenure. “When we went 2-0 down I have to say I thought ‘my goodness’,” he said.

“We’re pleased, the players are pleased because it was a big result. Of course you want to win but getting a draw today, especially after being 2-0 down, is an excellent result.”

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