Mikel: Defence is tighter since I took over... we just need to stop making silly mistakes (... and the Arsenal boss is right)
MIKEL ARTETA insists that Arsenal have tightened up at the back — despite not keeping a clean sheet since January.
In the first eight or nine months of Arteta’s reign, the Gunners were more defensively minded and pragmatic than they had been for years.
It served them well, too, with victories over champions-elect Liverpool in the Premier League and Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last July.
This season, however, Arteta has tried to implement a more attacking approach.
And while that looks to have come at a price, with at least one goal conceded in each of their last 14 games, the Spaniard is adamant there is no direct correlation and that those goals are simply down to mistakes.
He said: “If you look at the clean sheets we had at the time of those games against Liverpool and Manchester City, to compare to what we have done now, we have to relate as well the amount of chances and shots we allow on our goal.
“Now we concede much less than before.
“But we make some big errors that have cost us a lot of goals in recent weeks.
“It’s true, it’s always difficult to find that balance because we are producing much more football.
“Overall, we are doing much better than we used to do, but at the end the results define the perception because we are here to win.
“I cannot just judge it by saying, ‘Here, we were more stable to now’. There are many things to look at.
“If you look at what happened against Slavia
Thursday, if we won 3-1 it would have been perfect.
“But we didn’t, we conceded a goal in the 93rd minute from a set-piece and we missed some big, big chances, so now the perception is different.”
The perception of many Arsenal fans is that striker Gabriel Martinelli should be given a run in the starting line-up.
Arteta (left) added: “That I understand. That when the team is not winning enough football matches, we always look for someone else to do it.
“I respect that and Gabi is doing really well. He is doing better every day, he is getting the right development.
“We have to be a little bit patient with him. But he has a bright future at the club and he will have all the opportunities he needs to show how good he is and the career he can have with us.
“We need to be patient, though, because we cannot put six or seven young kids out there.”
Arteta has also told David Luiz that the Brazilian’s knee injury will not impact contract extension talks.
“We said that at the end of the season we will make a
decision on those types of contracts,” said Arteta. “There is still a lot to play for and I don’t want any distractions.
‘The players in the last year of their contracts, they know that’s going to be the decision.
“We talked about it and, whether they are injured or not, it is not going to affect it.
“It is what we think for the future is the best thing for the club.”