Mikel Arteta claimed Arsenal dominated their limp defeat to Aston Villa, and confirmed the extent of Thomas Partey’s latest injury problem.
Ollie Watkins’ second-minute deflected strike earned Villa a 1-0 win to condemn Arsenal to their second Premier League defeat in five days.
The Gunners also needed debutant goalkeeper Mat Ryan at his best to deny other efforts from the goalscorer, as well as Ross Barkley, Bertrand Traore, Jack Grealish and John McGinn as Villa racked up eight shots on target to their three, as well as an xG of 1.2 to their 0.82.
But Arsenal boss Arteta came out fighting despite the performance, and said his side should have picked up a victory which would have taken them to eighth in the table.
“It was a really strong performance again today,” he said. “We completely dominated the game, we dominated every department and we should have won the game.
“But, in the Premier League when you just give a goal to opponents, and then you are not ruthless in the box, you cannot win these games.
“That’s something we have to do better [be more ruthless] and that’s something that has cost us in the last two games.
“As you could see me I was really animated for a few decisions and one big decision, that I will not discuss here as well what happened.
“But it is what it is. It is not an excuse. Regardless of those decisions we have to win the game. It is as simple as that.”
When pressed further about whether Arsenal should have been awarded a penalty when Emiliano Martinez appeared to tug Alexandre Lacazette to the floor in the penalty area from a corner, Arteta remained tight-lipped, and, on his conversation with referee Chris Kavanagh at full-time, he said: “I keep that between me and them. I prefer to stay on mute with that.”
Thomas Partey, who has completed 90 minutes only four times since his October move from Atletico Madrid, limped off 16 minutes from time after suffering what appeared to be a recurrence of the thigh injury which kept him out of action for more than a month from early December.
“He had a muscular issue so we had to take him off,” Arteta confirmed. “He could not carry on playing. We will see the extent of the injury. He wasn’t feeling well enough to continue playing so we had to take him off.”
Smith delighted with Villa showing
Aston Villa’s “doggedness” pleased boss Dean Smith as they bounced back from a poor home defeat by West Ham in midweek, and now sit only three points off the fifth-placed Hammers, and still with a game in hand.
He told BT Sport: “I said to them at the start that we’d gone away from being a good team on Wednesday, and the values we’d had to be a good team had been about the workrate, the team ethic and being good team-mates. We saw that in bundles today.
“We started with a really good intensity, that set us up really well. It had to be a good defensive performance at times, but their goalkeeper’s made some really good saves as well.
“There’s a doggedness about the players, a great team spirit. You could hear them at the end, the last five minutes, it was the noise you want to hear.”