Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta failed a tactical test vs. Brighton as Premier League top-four hopes falter


LONDON — The double harm blow of dropping Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey was at all times going to ask some tough questions of Arsenal supervisor Mikel Arteta, however he has to give you a higher reply than this.

Brighton — a intelligent however out-of-form workforce with one objective in seven video games, six of which they misplaced — deserved their 2-1 win right here at Emirates Stadium on Saturday as objectives from Leandro Trossard and Enock Mwepu dealt a big blow to the Gunners’ hopes of securing a Premier League prime 4 end.

Arsenal have surrendered the initiative within the race for Champions League qualification with two defeats in six days — and Arteta compounded the absence of two key gamers with a workforce choice Saturday that solely contributed to a disjointed show.

Deploying midfielder Granit Xhaka at left-back to interchange Tierney was a mistake. Xhaka has deputised in that place earlier than however with Partey already absent, dropping the Switzerland worldwide’s vary of passing in midfield solely served to intensify the disconnect all through the workforce.

Albert Sambi Lokonga, in his first begin since Jan. 23, was requested to anchor a three-man midfield, offering defensive cowl whereas enabling Arsenal to play out from the again. The issue of that process was exacerbated by Xhaka’s absence from the identical space of the pitch, one thing Arteta sought to rectify within the second half by encouraging Xhaka to float into midfield when the house aspect had been in possession.

Although there was a late rally from Arsenal, triggered by Martin Odegaard’s deflected long-range strike halving the deficit with 89 minutes performed, this efficiency was a little bit of a mess, removed from the construction and rhythm they’ve performed with at their finest underneath Arteta.

They did have their moments. Gabriel hit the side-netting with a close-range header earlier than Trossard’s opener and Gabriel Martinelli had an equaliser disallowed on the stroke of halftime for offside. After Mwebu doubled the guests lead with a excellent objective that includes beautiful link-up play between Trossard and Moises Caicedo, Odegaard hit the crossbar with a free-kick and substitute Eddie Nketiah achieved the identical with the rebound.

But there was a lack of cohesion and stability to Arsenal, which solely underlines the issue they now face with such a small squad in offsetting the absences of Tierney, who underwent knee surgical procedure on Thursday, and Partey attributable to a thigh downside.

“With the entire workforce obtainable, we all know how tough the problem that we’ve forward,” stated Arteta. “With these two massive accidents it makes the scenario extra difficult. We can’t have a look at that as a result of we’re going to be on the lookout for excuses, and what occurred as we speak is all the way down to us with the gamers we’ve and the best way we’ve ready for the sport.”

By hauling off Nuno Tavares at halftime in opposition to Crystal Palace, Arteta could have put extra doubts within the thoughts of essentially the most logical understudy to Tierney. Tavares was an unused substitute right here however certainly he can be known as upon at some stage as his inclusion would permit Xhaka to return to his pure midfield position.

Cedric Soares is also deployed at left-back as soon as Takehiro Tomiyasu is match once more however the Japan worldwide won’t return to full coaching following a calf downside till after subsequent weekend’s recreation at Southampton. Finding a means of returning Xhaka to the guts of the workforce feels crucial after Saturday’s show. The cushion Arsenal had within the prime 4 race has gone and Arteta didn’t disguise from the tough second they now discover themselves in.

“What occurs [now] is criticise ourselves a lot,” he stated. “Get slapped once more as a result of we deserve it, as a result of we had been actually poor once more the primary half, and carry ourselves up as a result of we all know that this street is taking us nowhere — particularly the place we wish to be.

“We have all the things to play for within the final eight video games. We must have that degree of vitality and visualise the problem — the attractive problem we’ve forward and do not sit again and see what occurs.”

Alexandre Lacazette was a peripheral determine as soon as once more, now with out a objective from open play since December 11. He touched the ball simply 21 occasions — the fewest of any starter — and tried simply eight passes. His particular person xG was 0.00. The solely different Arsenal outfield participant with the identical clean was Ben White, who discovered himself the topic of a lot derision from the away followers having left Brighton in a £50 million transfer final summer time.

Nketiah and Nicolas Pepe tried to make an affect off the bench as they’ve finished beforehand, however the lack of choices Arteta has at his disposal after streamlining the squad in January comes into sharper concentrate on days like this.

Arsenal have proven they will overcome adversity this season. But the twin lack of Tierney and Partey feels certainly one of their largest hurdles but.


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