Arteta aghast at one aspect of Arsenal defeat – ‘that was worrying’; clarifies ‘serious’ injury concern

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta Credit: Alamy
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta Credit: Alamy

Mikel Arteta bemoaned his side’s “worrying” lack of intensity and aggression in the Europa League defeat to PSV Eindhoven, and allayed fears of a serious injury lay-off for one absent star.

Arsenal passed up the chance to secure top spot in Group A after falling to a 2-0 defeat against PSV Eindhoven.

Arteta continued his trend of naming four or five regular starters in his eleven for Europa League contests. The Likes of William Saliba, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli all got the nod, but it simply wasn’t the Gunners’ night.

Following a cautious first half from both sides, PSV exploded into life after the break.

Joey Veerman put the hosts in front in the 55th minute when calmly slotting past Aaron Ramsdale. The 24-year-old was selected to start after regular Europa stopper, Matt Turner, missed out with a groin complaint.

PSV didn’t rest on their laurels and quickly doubled their advantage from a corner.

Cody Gakpo notched his 27th goal contribution of the season when his whipped delivery was headed home by Luuk de Jong. Ramsdale didn’t cover himself in glory at the set piece, punching thin air instead of the ball.

Arteta brought on Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus with a view to rescuing the game late on. Eddie Nketiah came close to pulling one back, but it was PSV’s night and they duly emerged 2-0 victors.

Arsenal had already qualified for the knockout rounds, though top spot in the group will be determined in matchweek six.

Group winners in the Europa League are rewarded with direct passage to the Round of 16 stage. Conversely, those who finish second are entered into the play-off round which will contain the Champions League drop-outs.

“End of a long run” – Mikel Arteta

Speaking after the match, Arteta said (via Arsenal’s official website): “Yeah, it’s the end of a long run. Today’s the first defeat after a long period.

“It’s time to reset, to analyse what happened. Congratulations to PSV – they were the better team and they deserved to win the game. There’s no question about that. We were nowhere near our level today, especially the way we competed.”

On why PSV got the better of the duels, the Spaniard continued: “They were on top of that.

“Last week it was all ours and today it was very different. When that happens against top teams, it’s very difficult to win. Apart from any other aspects, today we were extremely poor.”

Lack of intensity “worrying”; Arsenal injury fears allayed

On if he saw this below-par display coming, Arteta admitted: “I don’t know.

“We have periods where we’ve been excellent and periods where we’ve suffered. For sure, we haven’t had the consistency for 95 minutes to maintain the level we want.

“That’s the next challenge and the next aim for this team. Today I think it was very different, right from the beginning.

“Even though we had periods where we controlled the game, I didn’t feel that we had the threat and the aggression that we’ve been playing at.

“That was worrying. In the second half, the moment something went wrong, we just went down and we didn’t really find moments to give us some hope to react and get something out of the game.”

Explaining Matt Turner’s absence, he added: “Yesterday in training he had some discomfort in his groin.

“He tried this morning but he wasn’t well, so Aaron had to play.”

“I don’t know – we’ll have to assess him,” Arteta added when quizzed on if the issue is serious. “It didn’t look a serious injury, no.”

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