After making six changes to his starting line-up for our FA Cup trip to Manchester City, Mikel Arteta revealed his pride in those that came into the team, despite falling to a 1-0 defeat.
The boss opted to rotate at the home of the reigning Premier League champions to hand further opportunities for those players to impress desperate for minutes, and he felt they didn’t let him down even though we exited the competition.
That will only increase the competition for places over the coming weeks, with three big league games coming in the next 19 days, culminating in the visit of Pep Guardiola’s team at the Emirates - which he feels we’ll be better prepared for after this cup tie.
“I’m very proud of the boys, they fully deserved the chance to play,” he said to Arsenal.com. “We kept saying that everyone is important and if that’s the case, they have to play, and they gave me another reason today to keep trusting them and have them contribute to the team.
“Now I’m disappointed and I think that we are all disappointed because we wanted to beat them, and we wanted to be in the cup as it’s a very important competition. Tomorrow, we’ll maybe look at the [upcoming] game a bit differently.”
Despite his happiness with his players, Mikel was frustrated with the manner of Nathan Ake’s winner which proved to be the difference between the teams in a game the boss believes could have easily gone the other way.
“I think we could have taken much more than we did but there are some learnings there as well,” he added. “We didn’t defend well enough for the goal, and we were punished on the only action where they went through us.
“We had some big chances in the first half, there were some big opportunities that we should have finished in terms of clear shots in the second half. Overall, I’m very disappointed because we could have taken it.”
Arteta also wanted to place on record his gratitude for our supporters for their dedication and sacrifice to make up to the north-west on a Friday night to back the team
“They were incredible again,” he added. “Thank you so much for making the effort to come here. They were very noisy and really supportive of the team so there’s a big appreciation for that.”
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