EPL

Arteta: Arsenal must improve game management

By Sports Desk January 19, 2020

Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal must learn to control matches after throwing away another lead late on in their 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.

John Fleck's deflected shot seven minutes from time cancelled out Gabriel Martinelli's ninth goal of the season in Saturday's Premier League clash at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal have dropped 13 points from winning positions this term - as many as they did in the whole of 2018-19 - having also let advantages slip against Chelsea and Crystal Palace in recent weeks.

Arteta concedes a lack of focus has cost his side since he replaced Unai Emery in December but denies the Gunners lack leaders in their ranks to help see games through.

"It's more to do with game management," he told reporters. "We can talk about the things that happened prior to that situation that can be avoidable. 

"But you know, there are one hundred million decisions to make in one football match and 11 players or 22 players making them [at] 180 beats per minute.

"I don't think it was about concentration [against United]. Against Palace I think it was. I think we switched off on the free-kick and we paid the price. 

"Many things happened after that, but on Saturday I don't think it was. It's a second ball. You try to put a header to the wide areas, not centrally and someone puts it, from there, after bouncing the ball, in the top corner. It's difficult."

Arsenal have won just one of their opening five league games under Arteta, three of those ending in 1-1 draws, but the Spaniard believes improvements have been made.

"In many aspects of the way that we train and the things that we're trying to implement, yes, I am pleased, but obviously there are things that I want to improve," he said.

"We will try to find the best game plan possible for each game to try to avoid the things that are going to go against us."

Martinelli helped fill the void left by suspended team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang against the high-flying Blades, the teenage forward scoring his second league goal in his fourth start in the competition.

With Aubameyang also ruled out of the games against Chelsea and Bournemouth, Arteta acknowledged the importance of others stepping up.

"When you lose a player of his stature, you're always concerned," he said. "But it is what it is - we know he's not going to be with us. 

"It doesn't matter how sad we are for the next two games. We need other players and [against United] some of them showed what they are capable of doing."

Eddie Nketiah was brought on as a second-half substitute for his first Arsenal appearance of the season after his Leeds United loan spell was cut short.

And the 20-year-old, who struggled for playing time under Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road, is in contention to start against Chelsea on Tuesday.

"Every player has a chance to start. He is in the squad," Arteta said. "We will assess who is in best condition to play in who is training well and we'll make the decision based on that.

"I was very impressed with him. Everything I've seen in training I really liked and I think he's grown a lot in terms of his loan and the environment he was working in."

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