Mikel Arteta admitted he was angry with Granit Xhaka’s red card in his side’s 5-0 defeat at Man City that increased the pressure on the under-fire Arsenal manager, who received backing from his former boss at the Etihad, Pep Guardiola.
The Gunners lost their third straight game of the new league season – all without scoring – to sink to the bottom of the Premier League, with Xhaka’s first-half sending-off not helping the visitors’ cause.
However, Arteta was also disappointed City’s second goal was not disallowed by the Video Assistant Referee for a foul by the scorer Ferran Torres on Calum Chambers just before the goal, with the Arsenal manager claiming the rules are not consistent.
“I am (angry) because of the consequences that it had to the team,” Arteta told BT Sport.
“I must say that the line we are being judged with is really, really thin because we have seen actions like that in the first two Premier League games and nothing happened and I am disappointed.
“I am very disappointed with the second goal because of the way that they allowed that goal.”
On the game itself – which Arsenal had no shots on target in – Arteta added: “I think we started the game really well and in the first situation they had the ball in our box and we defend the cross, we defend the run into the box, and then we are 1-0 down, so we tried to go again.
“I think we tried to create some situations, and then the second one, there was a hit and the referee allows it to go and then we are 2-0 down and after the red card (there was) obviously a mountain to climb.”
However, Arteta thanked the fans and said he is “proud” of the support they gave, despite the result.
“When you lose games it’s impossible (to sell the idea of a project), but you saw we had 3,000 fans today and the way they reacted to the team and to the club and the support they were giving it was unconditional, that was why everyone went over to say ‘thank you’ and that was why I am really proud of that,” he said.
“I am sorry we cannot give them the result right now and we will have to fix it.”
Is Arteta still right man for Arsenal?
Arteta later backed himself to turn around the club’s dismal form – but called on everyone at the club to “look in the mirror” after Saturday’s thrashing at Manchester City.
Arteta said at his press conference: “I’m really disappointed with the things that happened on the pitch and the summary after three games, losing all of them, doesn’t make it any easier.
“It is time to reflect and look in the mirror, each of us, and try to change the dynamic straight away because we need to pick up results.”
Asked if he felt he was the right man for the job, the Spaniard said: “Yes I do, if not I wouldn’t be sitting here.
“I have been most critical of myself and taken the blame every single time when we had defeats. Today I say exactly the same thing.
“I question myself and I have to try and have the right people around me and look at every decision that we make and I make and change it if we think we should have done something different.”
Pep agrees on red – and backs Arteta
Meanwhile, Guardiola admitted the red card shown to Xhaka in the first half made life easier for his side.
“We found the goals and after the sending off from Xhaka… it was more difficult for the opponent and easier for us,” he said.
Guardiola added: “We know in the past that Mikel [Arteta] plays almost man to man, but after that we were able to drop them and after that our position was good and after 2-0, when they play with 10 men, it was another game.
“So we get another goal, we respect the opponent and what they have to do, and we get the victory.”
Guardiola also urged Arsenal to “trust” Arteta – who was his assistant at the Etihad, before moving to the Emirates 20 months ago, to succeed this season.
“He has evolved beyond a good man, the correct personality, the leading, his love for all of us,” added Guardiola. “We were sad when he left and sometimes people expect results immediately.
“The squad that he played today was not the squad that he dreamed (of) because he has injuries, really important players. Ben White and examples like that.
“He can’t produce the players he needs to do it. All the managers need the squad. All our players except Kevin [De Bruyne] and Phil [Foden] – I can handle that.
“I’m a big fan of him and I’m pretty sure if they trust him they are going to do a good job in their season.”
Will Pep try again in transfer market?
The week may have been dominated by City’s high-profile pursuits of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo ending without success, but Guardiola stressed he was perfectly happy with his squad.
He said: “That is why we did not need to buy a striker. We tried but it was not possible. It is a fantastic squad. I have to say thank you for the players they have given me.”
Torres, who arrived at the club as a winger, again impressed playing as a centre forward and Guardiola compared him favourably to one of the Premier League’s best in that position.
He said: “He played incredibly well. Now in this position, he make movements like the best strikers in behind, like Jamie Vardy.
“He is a good finisher, he is so young. Man City made an incredible job buying him.”