Arteta: ‘I love Arsenal players more’ after loss
Mikel Arteta backed his players, saying he now loves them even more, after Arsenal suffered just their second Premier League loss of the season in a shock 1-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.
James Tarkowski headed in an inswinging corner from Dwight McNeil for the winning goal in the 60th minute to give an Everton team that started the match in next-to-last place a vital win in Sean Dyche’s first game as manager.
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While Everton climbed out of the relegation zone at least temporarily, Arsenal tasted defeat in the league for the first time since losing at Manchester United on Sept. 4.
Second-place Manchester City can trim the gap to Arsenal to two points with a win at Tottenham on Sunday, though Arsenal would still have a game in hand.
“For the team, I want the team to know how much I love them and I love them much more now than three hours ago, a week ago, a month ago, three months ago,” Arteta said.
“It’s very easy to be next to the players when they are winning and performing. This is the moment that I love my players more, the staff more and now we stick together.
“This journey is going to be difficult, challenging and there’s going to be big stones in the middle that we have to overcome and now we have to prepare the week really well to get to Saturday with the right emotional level and the right spirit to beat Brentford.”
Everton had the better of the first-half chances, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin unable to get enough on the ball from two yards out after Amadou Onana surged down the left and sent in a cross before Abdoulaye Doucoure headed wide from McNeil’s cross.
Bukayo Saka had a weak shot cleared off line and Arsenal teammate Eddie Nketiah blazed high and wide, but the visitors were often hounded out of possession in midfield and struggled to keep their composure.
Indeed, frustrations boiled over in stoppage time as Arsenal left back Oleksandr Zinchenko clashed with Everton substitute Neal Maupay off the ball.
Jorginho, signed on Tuesday from Chelsea, came on as a second-half substitute for his Arsenal debut but didn’t make a significant impression.
“I think Everton were really good and we have to congratulate them first of all for the way they have turned it around and I think they merit winning the game because they were really efficient,” Arteta added.
“From our side, disappointed because we didn’t get the result that we wanted. But the performance doesn’t reflect what we’ve been doing, especially in two phases when they were really direct and we struggled to control that type of game and get back [on track] to the game that we wanted to play.
“Then with the amount of open situations we created in the final third, that has to finish with goals, with clear-cut chances much more than what we’ve done today.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.