Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has criticised his players for an “unacceptable” display in their 3-0 loss to a Liverpool side who “were much better than us in every department.”
It should come as no surprise that Arsenal approached Saturday’s clash in such a conservative fashion, but speaking to Sky Sports after a 3-0 loss, Arteta said he was “in shock.”
The interview came after a second-half blitz that saw Diogo Jota score twice and Mohamed Salah once, tearing apart an abject, deep-sitting Gunners side that held on through the opening 45 minutes.
Liverpool were excellent, and Arteta acknowledged that, saying his side “completely deserved to lose the game.”
“They deserved to win the game with the margin they have or more. Unacceptable, from our side, the way we played today,” he said.
“They were much better than us in every department. They won every duel, every second ball, every challenge.
“They were brave when they had the ball, they made the right decisions – we didn’t. It’s my fault.”
Arteta attempted to shoulder the blame for Arsenal‘s display, but while there should be questions asked of his management as they sit ninth in the Premier League, he was right to give Liverpool praise.
“Congratulations to Liverpool, because I think they were exceptional today,” he continued.
“They were, and they can play on that level. We saw the difference today between the two teams, when we play at that level, that the margin is incredibly high.
“I don’t have to use any excuses, that we don’t have five or six players, it’s not about that.
“The standard has to be much higher for this football club, and my job is to get them to perform on that level.
“[The problem] was technical as well, the effort is a disappointment, but we gave everything away.
“We couldn’t put three passes together, they did that really well, they counter-pressed, but it was too many simple things not done right.
“The basics were not there today, and when you do that against this level of opponent you get punished like we have.”
It is pleasing to hear an opposition manager admit that the Reds were simply better on the night, with there being few excuses – if any – for how Arsenal performed.
Liverpool were closer to their best on Saturday, and Arteta’s lament serves as proof of this, with their approach play crisper, their off-ball work relentless and, after Jota’s introduction, the finishing clinical.
Arsenal are treated as ‘rivals’, given their history in the top flight, but at this point they are in their rightful place in mid-table.
For Liverpool, the real challenge will be Real Madrid on Tuesday, and if they can perform how they did at the Emirates, they should be considered favourites to take a solid away win from the first leg.