Arteta: ‘Let’s take the handbrake off’

Arsenal boss’s message to players after draws

Thursday, 21st October 2021 — By Steve Barnett

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MIKEL Arteta has urged his Arsenal players to be more “ambitious” if they take the lead against Aston Villa tomorrow night (Friday) at the Emirates Stadium.

Having won three Premier League games on the bounce in September, the Gunners are now struggling once again after being held to draws away to Brighton & Hove Albion and then Crystal Palace at home on Monday night.

The 2-2 draw against the Eagles was especially frustrating for Arteta.

Arsenal took an early lead through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but in the end needed a 95th-minute goal from substitute Alexandre Lacazette to salvage a point.

The Gunners’ boss now has to quickly work out what went wrong and why his side suddenly “put the handbrake on” against Palace to fix the issue before Villa arrive in north London.

“We managed to score the goal, and we were in control, and then our level dropped,” Arteta told Arsenal Media.

“We had no composure on the ball. We started to give the ball away too easily, we didn’t have any sequences in our passes, and we wanted to attack in one or two passes when the distances were too big.

“I think we put the handbrake on a little bit. We started to defend. We were not moving fluently enough and taking the right decisions – like playing forward more and being more ambitious to score the second goal in that moment.”

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, with Arteta also praising his team’s persistence in earning a point last time out against Palace.

He added: “Those players kept believing, they always do, and they never gave up.

“We scored one and I think we should have scored one or two more.

“Sometimes, when you concede the goals that we did, you generate a lot of frustration individually and collectively and you just throw the game away. We didn’t do that.

“The subs, I think they were terrific, the way that they came on and they transmitted real belief to the crowd that we could score the goal. These things happen for a reason and we scored a goal because we kept fighting until the end.”

Meanwhile, Albert Sambi Lokonga is “hungry” to make amends for his error during Arsenal’s draw with Palace.

The midfielder came off the bench on Monday and was at fault for the visitors’ second goal after being caught in possession.

“When you play a game like this, you are hungry inside because I made a mistake,” Sambi said after the game. “I want to play the next game as quick as possible to change everything.”

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