Arsenal midfielder laments ill fortune in defeat to Manchester United
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Captain Mikel Arteta is adamant that Arsenal’s first home Premier League defeat in more than a year was thoroughly undeserved.
The Gunners squandered numerous scoring opportunities against old foes Manchester United, but failed to take any until substitute Olivier Giroud netted on his comeback deep into added time.
That proved to be no more than a consolation after an own goal by Kieran Gibbs and Wayne Rooney’s late strike condemned the home side to their first league reverse at Emirates Stadium since Aston Villa’s opening-day triumph in August 2013.
However, Arteta believes his team were entitled to feel hard done by after putting in what he described as their best performance of the season.
“I feel so sorry for the lads and for the fans as well because I don’t think we deserved it,” declared the Arsenal midfielder. “I cannot believe it that we haven’t won this game.
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“I think we played our best game this season in terms of quality, the way we attack, how we won the ball back, how consistent we were throughout the game, and the amount of chances we created.
“It was bad luck on the first goal – that obviously changed the game and put us under more pressure. [Until then] we were absolutely controlling it and hammering them.
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“After that you have to try to change the game and, when they have the players they have up front, they can create problems any time. It’s very frustrating.
“But I think we can also take a lot of positives from this performance. We were pleased because we turned it around from what happened [in our last game] at Swansea.”
The Gunners’ most significant plus point was surely the return of centre-forward Giroud, who had not originally been expected to feature until the new year after suffering a broken leg just three games into the campaign.
The French striker showed his team-mates how to find the net, rattling a left-foot thunderbolt past David de Gea after the United goalkeeper had produced a string of saves to thwart Arsenal earlier in the game.
Arteta admitted that the Gunners had paid the price for their profligacy – as well as over-committing players in search of an equaliser at 1-0 down and leaving gaps at the back that were gratefully exploited by Rooney.
“It’s not just Olivier – he took his goal very well, but we had enough chances that, in a game or in training, we would have finished and it would have been a different story,” said the skipper.
“When you are inside the box and can’t manage to score in so many situations you can’t expect to win a football game. On any other day we would have won the game very comfortably.
“Then we were under pressure and trying to do more and get back in the game, maybe over-trying, and we got caught. That’s a mistake and it cannot happen.”
The loss left the Gunners eighth in the table – already 15 points behind leaders Chelsea and seven behind third-placed Manchester City, with a trip to West Brom their next assignment on Saturday (kick-off 12.45pm).
“We’ve dropped too many points already, we’ve been saying that for weeks now and we need to turn it around,” Arteta added.
“We know what we can do away from home and we have another opportunity, that’s the best thing about football.”