The Arsenal captain was not absolving himself of blame for the dire performance and defeat by Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night, but Mikel Arteta has taken the captain’s role and delivered a stark and honest appraisal of where Arsenal went wrong and how we have to change quickly or forget about winning the Champions League.
The elite European competition is a different animal than the Premier League, or any domestic league for that matter. It takes even the best teams some time to get used to it, as highlighted by the terrible struggles of Man City in recent years as they swept all before them in England.
But Arsenal have plenty of experience in the UCL and should have known better, as Arteta explains in a Daily Express report. The Spaniard even admitted that the Gunners knew what they had to do, and not do, in a tough away game in Dortmund. The problem was that the players failed to implement that plan and were punished accordingly.
Arteta was as culpable as any Arsenal player on the pitch and is clearly giving himself a talking to as well, but I don’t mind that. He is the captain after all and it is up to him to tell his team mates that they must learn from this, because any repeats will see us out of the competition yet again.
Arteta said, “If you make the mistakes that we did, against top sides, we know that there is no chance to win the Champions League.
“We encouraged them to attack us by giving the ball away so many times in very difficult positions where the team is open and trying to get out and when that is the situation, they are very good at that. They exploit the spaces very well and they put us under pressure.
“We know this is one of the toughest places to come in Europe and we’ve seen Real Madrid get battered here as well, but we had a different game in mind before the start.
“I am very disappointed because we knew their strengths, what we had to avoid and what we did was encourage them to play their game.
“Right from the start, they broke on us five or six times in the first 10 minutes when we gave the ball away and it’s not good enough because when that situation comes, they are a really good team doing that and they put you in trouble.
“After, we defended very well on some situations and it was very disappointing to give the ball away with just 10 seconds to go in the first-half with a throw-in for us in the other side of the pitch. With three against one, they managed to score.
“We have to react. We have to analyse what we have done wrong and try to improve. In four days, we have another game. That is the best thing, another game to try to react and improve.”
It happens, Arsenal fans, and every team has off days and makes mistakes. The key is to learn from them and put things right. Hopefully that game will serve as a wake up call. Only time will tell.