Mikel Arteta accepts it is his responsibility to bring greater consistency to Arsenal after they showed their “two faces” during the helter-skelter 3-3 draw at West Ham.
The Hammers looked to be cruising towards a victory which would have seen them draw level with Chelsea in fourth after goals from Jesse Lingard, Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek put them in complete control.
But own goals from Soucek and Craig Dawson hauled Arsenal, at times shambolic in the first half, back into the match before Alexandre Lacazette’s late header earned the visitors a point.
Arteta told Sky Sports: “The first half an hour was really disappointing, we weren’t at the races. We showed the face that we still have, but then we showed our spirit in tough conditions where any team could collapse, start blaming each other or show bad body language.
“We conceded a quality goal, but then we didn’t win enough challenges, we didn’t show urgency, and we conceded another two goals that were unacceptable. That keeps me awake. It has happened too many times too often. At this level you cannot do that because your opponents are too good.
“But in the second half we played some of the best I have seen us play. We got better and better, and looking at some of the chances we should have scored six or seven. We can’t go from here to there. But for the rest of the match I am proud of the team and the courage we showed. That shows me how far we have come together.”
On switching off at the set-piece which led to West Ham’s second, Arteta added: “It was unacceptable. We talk about that all the time. I don’t know if it’s a hangover from Europe, tired, focus, it was more than one player that switched off. We have to right that quick.”
“It is my responsibility as before we couldn’t play at that level. Now we can. This is where we’re heading and we need to stop giving the opponents anything. It’s too simple, but I’m incredibly proud of the team and the courage we showed.
“I sensed at half-time we could complete the turnaround and it shows how far we’ve come together. It keeps me awake as it’s happened too many times, too often. I was pleased with the level that we played at afterwards.”
Arsenal pulled one back when Lacazette tucked away a cross from Calum Chambers via a deflection off Soucek – and halved the deficit on the hour mark when another dangerous ball from Chambers was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Dawson for his second own goal in a week.
And Arsenal were celebrating an unlikely point when Nicolas Pepe teased a fine cross into the path of Lacazette, who powered his header home.
“I’m not worried about the culture as we’ve come so far on that,” Arteta said. “I’ve seen so many positive things. Today was one of those as I’ve seen a completely different reaction before from a similar situation. I’m worried with the different levels we can show within a game, and on this we are still far from being among the top teams.”
‘Odegaard already leading by example’
Martin Odegaard played a pivotal role in salvaging a point for his side, creating four chances during the match – more than any other Arsenal player.
Arteta said: “I think he had an incredible performance. He was very intelligent with the way he read the game and affected the game. When everyone was trembling he showed his ability with incredible composure to create chance after chance.
“He is showing that from week one [leadership]. He always wants the ball and is commanding the pressing. He’s been really influential. He looks really shy and humble but when he steps on the pitch he shows real character.
“I love talented and creative players, who are willing to take the ball and who is a hard-worker. He is one of them. He’s giving us a different level in certain things we didn’t have before.”
Moyes: We lost two points
West Ham were left to rue a wasted opportunity to go level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea as they failed to win after being three goals ahead in a Premier League game for the first time since September 1998.
Curiously, it was in that same season that West Ham went on to finish fifth, and while they remain on course to replicate that feat, Moyes acknowledged that his side had dropped two points having been in such a position of authority.
The Hammers boss said: “We played really well for about 30 minutes but we concede a goal just before half-time that changes the game a bit. I have to say Arsenal played well in the second half to make it difficult for us. But we challenged Arsenal right until the end so I can’t be too disappointed.
“I get the chance to see the players every day and all clubs have weaknesses so it’s my job to protect them. We played a team who are in good form having beaten Spurs. We didn’t allow them to show their form in the first half but certainly in the second we struggled to hang in there.
“Then we had the moments to win the game again but we didn’t take those chances. I don’t want to discuss the referee but the officiating was tough for the players today – that’s all I will say.”
On Michail Antonio striking the post, Moyes added: “It was a key moment because we’d got ourselves into a situation where it looked like we would just counter to see the game out. It was an important chance. I’ve not had a chance to see how easy it was but at the time you felt like it would just end up going in the net.
“We’ve made sure that we’re keeping going and hopefully we can keep the dream alive for as long as possible. Let’s be clear, we feel like we’ve lost two points today. We’ve done a lot of good things and hopefully we can show that in the games coming up.”
‘Schoolboy error summed up Arsenal early on’
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp:
“West Ham’s second goal summed up the first 30 minutes for Arsenal. It reflected how bright and alive West Ham were.
“The first thing you are taught when a ball goes dead is not to turn your back. But look at the Arsenal players: you can see Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Mari. The goalkeeper doesn’t get in the right position.
“It’s abject and it’s what you see at schoolboy level when you talk about football. It was a poor piece of goalkeeping as well, and it summed Arsenal up. They need leaders who take responsibility, but they got caught out.
“These are things you learn as a kid. Every one of them went asleep.”
Following the international break, Arsenal host Liverpool in the Premier League on April 4, live on Super Sunday; coverage starts at 4pm with kick-off at 4.30pm. West Ham travel to face Wolves the following day on Monday Night Football; kick-off is at 8.15pm.