Mikel Arteta said Arsenal were in “big trouble” and feeling further pain after a 4-1 home defeat to Manchester City dumped them out of the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
The Arsenal manager picked a second-string team and watched his goalkeeper, Alex Rúnarsson, endure a torrid evening. The low point came when the Icelander fumbled a Riyad Mahrez free-kick into the net to give City a 2-1 lead. Rúnarsson had also been partly to blame for Gabriel Jesus’s opening goal.
It was a night when so much went wrong for Arteta. Gabriel Martinelli, who made Arsenal’s equaliser for Alexandre Lacazette, was forced off after taking a kick to the shin while City’s third goal, scored by Phil Foden, ought to have been disallowed for offside only there was no recourse to VAR.
The bottom line was that it was no hard luck story for Arteta. City had too much quality, they were far the better side and they moved one step closer to a fourth consecutive win in the competition. Pep Guardiola, who joined them in 2016, has only lost one knockout tie in the competition.
Arteta’s team are mired in a desperate run of Premier League form, having taken only five points from the past 10 games, and they face a difficult home game with Chelsea on Boxing Day.
“We have to turn it around, there’s no question about that,” Arteta said. “We are in big trouble. I am focused on the fighters we have. I see a lot of fighters. This was a really painful moment again. We conceded a soft goal really early and to get through that is difficult but we reacted and scored. After that we were the better team but then we conceded another soft goal.
“When you give away the goals that we gave against an opponent like this, it makes the game impossible. Then, we have an open situation when we can play Lacazette through and they score on the counter and from an offside position. After that, the game is over.”
Arteta said that he felt his No 1 goalkeeper, Bernd Leno, needed some rest. On Rúnarsson, he added: “He hasn’t played a lot of games and he is just adapting to the league. We all make mistakes and we have to support him. We win and lose together. The responsibility is for us all.”
City have struggled for cutting edge at times this season and Guardiola was pleased with the ruthlessness they showed. But he added: “It’s like in Manchester, raining every day. For one day, the sun rises. It doesn’t mean the weather is going to change. It’s just one game. So we’ll see what happens in the future.”
Guardiola gave his support to Arteta, his former assistant at City, who is under increasing pressure. “They will do a huge, big mistake [if they dismiss him],” he said. “I’m pretty sure they are going to trust him. I know his incredible quality. It’s just a question of time and he will do well.”
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