Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal “crashed” at the start of the second half in their 4-0 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday and “threw the game away”.
Arsenal came into the contest off the back of a 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions – eight games without defeat in the Premier League – but were dismantled at Anfield.
The first half had been closely contested and Sadio Mane’s header from a free-kick was all that separated the two sides at half-time, but the Gunners’ nervy start to the second period saw Nuno Tavares gift the ball to Diogo Jota for Liverpool’s second goal and the visitors never recovered as Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino rounded off the rout.
Arteta bemoaned that poor spell after the break, which he explains was the turning point in the match as Liverpool’s high press repeatedly caught Arsenal as they tried to build from the back.
“At 1-0 down we go to half-time, it is the moment we have to be patient and start to build the game in our favour, and we did completely the opposite,” Arteta said to Sky Sports after the game.
“The first 15, 20 minutes, we just crashed. We started to give the ball away in the first 25 metres of our build-up phase and that’s why we lost the game, because the rest is just a consequence of the frustration of having to chase the game.
“We know they will punish you. They can press, they are one of the best at it. Mistakes are a part of football. They have been the best team in Europe because they can dominate in every aspect. They were better than us today.
“It was a huge test. We showed for 45 minutes we could compete with them. We crashed for 15-20 minutes, we threw the game away and that is the learning from today. We take the things we have to learn from today and move on. We have to carry on and it is about how we react now as a team.”
Defeat at Anfield.
4-0 (FT) #LIVARS
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) November 20, 2021
Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale agreed with his manager’s assessment of the team’s two contrasting halves, while also insisting that the defeat would not significantly impact the success or failure of the Gunners’ season.
“[Anfield is] one of the toughest places, if not the toughest, to come,” Ramsdale said to Sky Sports. “We did well for the first 45 minutes, they might’ve had more of the ball but we contained them.
“The second half showed we have got a lot of improvement to come, we made mistakes but that’s life and football. We got punished and that’s what the top teams do. At the start of the second [half], we were a bit naive and we needed to make better decisions on the pitch.”
“This game will not define our season – we had a tough start to the season then went 10 games unbeaten. We are realistic, we know it’s a tough place to come and we’ll be prepared now. We will come in on Monday head up chest out, we won’t be moping around.”
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