Arsenal's defeat to Southampton was 'huge' missed opportunity in top-four race, says Arteta

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Mikel Arteta described Arsenal's 1-0 Premier League defeat to Southampton as a "huge" missed opportunity in their bid to claim a Champions League qualification place.

Jan Bednarek scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time as the Gunners slumped to a third straight top-flight defeat.

Arsenal would have moved level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham had they won, with Antonio Conte's side suffering a last-gasp loss to Brighton and Hove Albion earlier in the day.

As it is, they ended Saturday in sixth after Manchester United's 3-2 win over Norwich City saw Ralf Rangnick's men leapfrog the Gunners into fifth.

Arsenal were the dominant side at St Mary's, taking a whopping 23 shots and enjoying 76 per cent possession.

There have been 11 instances of a team failing to score having taken 20 or more shots in a Premier League match this season, with Arsenal responsible for three of those.

While frustrated at missing the opportunity to take advantage of Tottenham's slip-up, Arteta believes on another day his team would have won comfortably.

Asked if it was a missed opportunity at a media conference, Arteta responded: "Huge, because for somebody that doesn't know the result and is watching the game, you know what they will tell you… that Arsenal won the game, and we didn’t. It's very disappointing, and difficult to explain with words.

"But this is sport, it’s what makes it different to any other, because in basketball you have 25 shots and the winner has one and you win 10 out of 10 times.

"At the end of the day it is decided in the boxes. They scored one goal, and for the amount of time that we spent around the box, the shots that we had, and the situations and the clear-cut chances that we had; we didn't put them in the goal.

"I can’t remember a game where Arsenal has played with this team, where they have created and dominated in a game more and better.

"We have to win football matches and we have to score more goals, and that’s a problem we have at the moment."

Arsenal
Arsenal

Arsenal started with a front three of Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, with Alexandre Lacazette self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

Arteta refused to criticise the trio but suggested Arsenal would not have drawn a blank had a more experienced forward been on the pitch.

"It is what we have," he added. "The players that we have, they haven't done it in this league. When you have a world-class player that has been playing in the league for 10 years, probably you are not sitting here.

"But I am the first one to defend them, to support them. You see how hard they tried. What happened today might happen the next week or the next month."

Arsenal are back in Premier League action on Wednesday when they travel to Stamford Bridge for a derby with Chelsea, before taking on Manchester United at home next Saturday.

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