Mikel Arteta was left “really concerned” as Arsenal fell to a third Premier League home defeat in a row – with Roy Keane declaring their players “not good enough”.
The Gunners continued their struggles in front of goal with only two of their 13 shots on target and a solitary goal to show for their 31 crosses in open play against Wolves – and the out-of-form Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang touching the ball only 23 times across the 90 minutes, one less than goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Arteta’s side are sandwiched between Newcastle and Crystal Palace in 14th in the Premier League, having won only one of their last six games and scored 10 goals all season – just one more than 19th-placed Fulham.
“Obviously I am really concerned,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “I am responsible for that, but I must say the reaction the team had, the way we played second half, was what I expect from them, but at the end the desire and willingness to go and get a result was there.
“We have to put the ball in the net. We create the chances, but in the end it’s putting the ball in the net. In the first half they have two shots on target and score two goals. When we had the chances, we didn’t. The goals will come, we have to insist, and we have to keep pushing the players and believe in them.
“It was a really bad result, the performance in the first half, we had our moments, they had two shots on target and scored twice.
“We had a great reaction in the second half, we went all for it, I think the team showed their desire, how much they wanted to win the game. We created the opportunities, the chances, and the goal didn’t arrive. I’m disappointed because I think we merited more from the game.”
The defeat came a year to the day after previous manager Unai Emery was sacked – but with Arsenal eighth in the table at the time of his departure, six places higher than their current setting, Arteta faced questions in his post-match press conference about his own future at the Emirates.
“The day I decided to be a coach I knew that one day I will be sacked or leave the football club,” he said. “My only concern is to get the best out of the players and give the best possible service to the club.”
Keane, Hasselbaink question Arsenal quality
Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane, who faced a decade of title rivalry with Arsenal during his spell at Old Trafford, condemned much of Arteta’s current crop of talent as “not good enough” after their defeat by Wolves.
The Gunners had finished in a Champions League qualification spot every season from 1997/98 until Arsene Wenger’s final season in charge 20 years later, while this season the club are already five points off fourth-placed Leicester – who have a game in hand – with only 10 games gone.
“I think a lot of the players aren’t good enough, I think there is a softness there,” said Keane. “I think a few weeks ago all the cheerleaders were out when they had a decent performance up at United.
“They’ve had one point since then, lost the other two games. I think they look soft, and are lacking a bit of confidence. I didn’t see that real fight the manager was talking about there – I know it’s a difficult interview, you’ve been beaten in the game so it’s difficult – but I didn’t see that desire, determination to get a result.
“You can have an off night of course, but you still find a way to get a result. At this moment in time I don’t see it with this group of players. I think they look soft.”
Ex-Leeds and Chelsea forward Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink shared Keane’s concerns over Arsenal’s squad, in spite of in excess of £150m being spent on recruitment since the start of 2019/20.
He said: “I think personnel is a big, big problem. When you’re Arsenal, there is some kind of expectancy that people want, and see. At the moment, they don’t get it. For Arsenal to have 13 points is just not good enough.
“There are problems. Would he gave wanted to bring in more players? Yes. But I don’t know if the funds were there or if the right players were available.
“They miss Thomas Partey, but it cannot be only one player. Today they were an easy team to play against. I’m sorry, but they were. It’s a problem.”