Mikel Arteta was left frustrated with how his team surrendered the initiative against Liverpool on Sunday, after storming to a two-goal lead early on.
Goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus inside the opening half hour put us in a commanding position at Anfield, but we were unable to press home the initiative and had to be grateful for a point at the end.
After the game, the boss said the team were punished for not replicating that approach from the opening 30 minutes for the rest of the game.
“It was a super intense match,” he said, “probably an exceptional match to watch with two very different halves.
“In the first half, we were very dominating, very composed and very clear in how we wanted to attack them. We scored two beautiful goals and had the game controlled.
“Then at that moment, we had to do the exact same thing and kill the game. And at that moment just before half-time, we conceded a goal, and it gave them some momentum. Then in the second half, it was all about keeping composed and taking the game back to where we wanted it.
“We were incapable of doing that, we gave far too many simple balls away in far too many dangerous areas, giving them spaces to run into, and created this chaotic game that they are expectational at playing. That had the consequence to get the crowd back and get the atmosphere back in, and we suffered.
“Now we have to deal with those situations with a lot of defensive moments, especially from Aaron and we were lucky not to concede a goal there. Then at the end we conceded a goal and we didn’t finish the game because we had three big, open situations to nick the victory and get away with that, but overall we have to take the point.”
He said he had outlined that message to the team after the final whistle.
“It’s crystal clear - the lesson is play the way we played from the beginning. Regardless of the context and the result, we have to continue to do that way. Don’t go speculating about doing something different. This is our strength, it’s why we’ve won so many games, and this is how we’re going to win many more games from here to the end of the season.”
The draw means we are now six points ahead of Manchester City, though Pep Guardiola’s men have a game in hand.
We have eight games remaining this season, starting at West Ham next weekend.
“It’s always tough when you drop two points in the last five, six minutes,” Arteta said. “It’s always difficult to take. But I said ‘let’s be fair guys, let’s be fair that what we did in the first half was exceptional and the second half could have cost us the game’. But we have to be realistic with that to try to play more like we did in the first half, and that’s it.”
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