Mikel Arteta says Arsenal cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves after his side made unwanted club history with their defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.
The Gunners went down 2-0 to their London rivals at Emirates Stadium through first-half goals from returning Blues striker Romelu Lukaku and lively wing-back Reece James.
Arsenal lost their opening Premier League game of the season to Brentford by the same scoreline, making it the first time in their 118-year history in England’s top four tiers they have opened a campaign with two defeats from two without scoring.
It is also the first time the north London side have ended a day in the relegation zone with more than one game played since August 1992, with the pressure growing on manager Arteta after spending a reported £129million on new recruits.
The Spaniard accepts Arsenal can have no complaints with the defeat to Chelsea and has called for a swift response from his side when they face West Brom in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, three days before travelling to Manchester City.
“Chelsea were the better team. When they play at their best, which I think they did today, they are champions of Europe, have world-class players and to match at that level is difficult,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“You can always do things better. In the first half it took us a long time to regain the ball in wide areas. We conceded two goals but the way the team responded and the crowd never gave up, it gave us hope in the second half.
“I see a lot of positives with the crowd. The way they supported the team from the beginning. I saw a good reaction. It is one of the difficult moments. The circumstances are difficult and unprecedented.
“Feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t help. You have to win football matches, keep it together and show spirit. Starting tomorrow in training with the players who did not play. We need to win the game midweek and that will help against City next weekend.”
The defeat for Arteta was his 20th as Arsenal manager in the Premier League in what was his 60th match, compared to 20 defeats in his first 116 matches in the competition for legendary Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal’s preparations for Arteta’s second full campaign in charge have been hampered by five players testing positive for coronavirus, with big-money signing Ben White the latest to be ruled out of the Chelsea match after testing positive.
And Arteta believes his side can turn things around once they return to full strength, though the Spaniard confirmed he does not expect White to be available for selection at the Etihad Stadium.
“It’s really challenging at the moment. We’re missing nine players and the majority of them are big senior players,” he said at his post-match news conference.
“The players we put out are trying their best but at the moments it’s not enough to win football matches. We try to explain when we can what we are facing but the expectation for this club is always that we will win.
“When the players are back and they will need some time to get back as well, hopefully it can be different. The good thing is the narrative in football changes really quickly.”
Arsenal squandered their only big chance against Chelsea when Rob Holding headed wide on the hour mark, but the hosts had a big penalty appeal rejected in the first half when James tangled with Bukayo Saka in the box.
Asked if he felt his side should have been awarded a penalty, Arteta replied: “Yes. Clear.”
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