Mikel Arteta rued the consequences of an “unacceptable” performance from his Arsenal side at Crystal Palace and admitted he had not anticipated anything like the 3-0 defeat that raises serious question marks about their top four hopes.
Arsenal were flat all night and got what they deserved against their superior hosts. They remain fifth in the table on goal difference behind Spurs and, while they have a game in hand, they must visit their north London rivals next month.
“We weren’t at the races, especially in the first half,” Arteta said. “We were late to every ball, we were soft in the duels and we didn’t earn the right to play. We were sloppy on the ball and we didn’t have any dominance, any sequences of play where we could take some control of the game and we conceded two poor goals [before half-time]. Overall it’s unacceptable. We put our hands up, apologise, regroup.”
Asked whether he had seen the defeat coming, Arteta said Arsenal had failed to heed his warnings before the game. “No, I could not see it,” he said.
“We discussed it just before kick-off, the way you win here is when you compete the way you should. That means you win duels, have presence and the composure on the pitch to manage certain situations. They are a really physical team and the pitch is not the best to do that, so you have to find a way to do other things that usually you don’t have to do. We didn’t manage to do that.”
Kieran Tierney, who could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, was absent and Thomas Partey departed early in a development that clearly concerned Arteta. Arsenal’s squad depth is already thin but Arteta refused to use it as mitigation.
“It’s what we have,” he said. “We lost Kieran, we lost Thomas now and that’s it. With the players that we have we will try, like we’ve been trying since the start of the season.”
Patrick Vieira was delighted with Palace’s display against his old club, which gave them a first home league win since 28 December. “I am really proud,” he said. “We played a really good game of football. We defended well and took our chances.”
Source: The Guardian