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Arteta: We paid price for slow start

by Koolkola

Mikel Arteta cited Arsenal’s slow start cost us the match, as Raheem Sterling headed home the first goal under two minutes.

He mentioned the team’s inability to cope with overloads on Kieran Tierney’s flank and the lack of quality in the final third.

He faced the press after the match and he had this to say.

On a bad start being costly…

Absolutely, the way we conceded the first goal put us in a really difficult situation. After one or two minutes, to concede against them is tough. It put the game exactly where they wanted it and even more with the formation and the players that they used, with the false 9 they are really comfortable and want to drag you out, to start to jump on them and create the spaces. When you are one-nil down you start to do that. After that the team reacted really well, we were on top of the game, we started to generate chances, to generate momentum in the opponent’s half but we lacked the quality when we got in those situations to score a goal.

On whether his player’s made a slow start or if City were excellent…

We got something wrong. We talked about something and we didn’t do it in the first five to 10 minutes; the overloads on one of the sides. And still, it’s a cross from Mahrez – you know it’s coming – and Sterling cannot head that ball. He’s clever and it’s really good execution but if you want to win against them you cannot concede that goal.

On what they did wrong…

It was a tactical thing that we prepared but we weren’t able to read it in the game. That costs us because we are disorganised every time we want to be aggressive in the high press.

On how they grew into the match…

The moment we clicked it, we started to do what we prepared and they found it difficult to beat that. We got momentum, we felt more comfortable because things were going [our way]. I think we were really good on the ball against their pressing and we could find really good spaces. When we were there at the end, around the box, in the final third, we lacked picking the right pass for a goal.

On creating space down the left with Tierney and Saka…

We tried to use some weaknesses that we thought we could exploit. There are not many because they are a fantastic team. When you see that ability, you see why they are top of the league. Every single player, the organisation they have, the spirit they have, how they compete when they had to in the final few minutes, they are a top side.

On how good City are…

I don’t know. Today, they played a little bit different because they played without a striker. But within their organisation, they can do so many things, they are really, really good, they’ve had five years together so there’s a big understanding of what they have to do. They manage the situations really well.

On a big week ahead…

We have a final on Thursday because we want to continue in the competition, we need to recover. It was a really demanding game for both teams today, a really intense game. We need to sleep well, eat, we’re not going to have much time to train and then we have to travel to Greece to play.

On Rob Holding’s head injury…

He’s fine, it will take him a few days probably [to recover] but he seems ok.

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