Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal must “find a way to win” after suffering their third consecutive defeat and missing out on a “huge” opportunity to close the gap between the top four on rivals Tottenham.
The Gunners were beaten 1-0 by Southampton thanks to Yan Bednarek’s first-half goal despite 23 shots and knowing a win would have taken them level on points with fourth-placed Spurs, who lost to Brighton on Saturday lunchtime .
Striker Alexandre Lacazette was missing after testing positive for Covid, although the visitors still created enough chances and were denied by a string of fine saves from goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
Arsenal slipped to sixth place behind Manchester United after their 3-2 win over Norwich, with Arteta admitting his side’s front-four challenge lost momentum.
“It certainly is and we have to find a way to win football games,” he said.
“What we can do is play as well as we can to get the team as close as possible to winning football games – today we did that again. The stats will say, ‘How the hell have we we lost this game? but the reality is that we lost it.”
Arsenal registered just six shots on target from their 23 attempts, but Forster made two particularly impressive saves to deny Bukayo Saka in the first half before swinging an Emile Smith Rowe effort behind in the second. It is the third time this season that they have recorded more than 20 shots without scoring.
“It’s hard to explain because it’s football, not basketball. In any other sport, you win the game very comfortably,” Arteta said in his post-match press conference.
“At the end of the day it’s decided in the boxes, they scored a goal, we didn’t for the time we were around the box, the clean chances we had, we didn’t. We didn’t put in the goal because they have an exceptional goalkeeper today, and because we didn’t have enough quality to break them.
“That’s what we have. The players we have, they haven’t made it to this league. World-class players have been in the league for 10 years. I’m the first to defend them, support them , you see how they tried. The only way to do that is to insist. What happened today could happen next week or next month.
Arsenal take on Chelsea live sky sports Wednesday before facing Manchester United and West Ham in a pivotal period.
Asked about the extent of the opportunity Arsenal had missed to catch up with Tottenham, Arteta said: “Huge. It’s very disappointing and difficult to explain in words, but it’s sport, that’s what makes him different from others.
“I don’t remember a game played by Arsenal this season [where we have] created more and better. But the end result is what we need to get to where we need to be. If we can’t do it, we won’t be there.”
Arsenal’s remaining matches
April 20 – Chelsea (a), live on Sky Sports
April 23 – Manchester United (h)
May 1 – West Ham (a), live on Sky Sports
May 8 – London (h), live on Sky Sports
May 12 – Tottenham (a), live on Sky Sports
May 16 – Newcastle (a)live on Sky Sports
May 22 – Everton (h)