Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said yesterday his side’s poor form in the Premier League is a constant source of worry and that he was trying to get to the root of the problem for their failure to score in tight games. Arsenal are 14th in the standings having lost four of their last six games, with three losses coming against teams who beat them by a single goal.
Arteta said Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers left a “really bad taste” and the Spaniard is set to make changes for today’s Europa League game against Rapid Vienna. “I’m really worried about the results and the margins that we are losing games,” Arteta told reporters.
“When we analyse the games afterwards — ‘why are we losing these games when they are so tight?’ — there is a reason that sometimes you win it and sometimes you lose it, but we need to recover. Sometimes it’s a lack of confidence in certain moments because we conceded as well... Then obviously the goals we need to score to win football matches more consistently.”
Arsenal have already qualified for the knockout stages with four wins. Today’s match will mark the first time a Premier League team welcomes back fans to the stadium amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with 2,000 being allowed to attend. It’s going to be extraordinary to have them back. It’s going to feel strange,” Arteta added. “I’m feeling sorry for thousands of fans who want to make it and won’t be able to be there.”
David Luiz is ruled out after his clash of heads with Wolves striker Raul Jimenez but Arteta said the defender could return on Sunday when Arsenal face local rivals and league leaders Tottenham Hotspur.
“I think he will be fit to play if the scar is healing properly and he’s comfortable heading the ball,” Arteta said. Arteta added that Thomas Partey has started training separately but he was unsure if the midfielder would be fit for the derby.
Arteta backed calls for concussion substitutes after Luiz’s clash of heads with Jimenez that left the Wolves striker with a fractured skull. Luiz played on until half-time of Sunday’s match, with Arsenal insisting concussion protocols were followed, but was replaced as blood continued to seep through his head bandage.
“Maybe it is a moment that we can think to give these people a little bit more time and use a temporary substitution, for example, if we don’t want to find ourselves in those positions,” Arteta said.
Arsenal faced fierce criticism for not replacing the Brazilian defender immediately after the collision, which occurred just five minutes into the Premier League match with Wolves at the Emirates.
But Arteta said that Arsenal’s club doctor Gary O’Driscoll had followed the rules. “He knows exactly what to do,” said the Spaniard. “He did all the testing, he followed all the protocols and we were very comfortable for him (Luiz) to carry on playing. But obviously you have to make a decision in one minute, when somebody is bleeding, when you have someone with a massive concussion next to you — whose life is under threat.”
Arteta said it was impossible to avoid accidental clashes in football and that sometimes they would lead to serious injuries. “Obviously, it’s never happened in football,” he added, referring to concussion substitutes. “It happens and it’s very common in other sports. And it’s just a suggestion.”
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