Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal needs to “find a way to win” after suffering their third consecutive defeat and missing a “huge” opportunity to close the top-four gap on rivals Tottenham.
The Gunners were beaten 1-0 by Southampton thanks to Yan Bednarek’s first-half goal despite having 23 shots and knowing a victory 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 have slipped to sixth behind Manchester United following their 3-2 victory over Norwich, with Arteta admitting his side’s top-four challenge has lost its impetus.
“It certainly has, and we need to find a way to win football matches,” he said.
“What we can do is play as good as possible to get the team as close as possible to win football matches – today we’ve done that again. The stats will say, ‘How the hell have we lost that game?’ but the reality is we lost it.”
Arsenal registered just six shots on target out of their 23 attempts, but Forster made two particularly impressive saves to deny Bukayo Saka in the first-half before tipping an effort from Emile Smith Rowe behind in the second. It is the third occasion this season they have registered more than 20 efforts at goal but not scored.
“It is difficult to explain because this is football, not basketball. In any other sport, you win the game very comfortably,” said Arteta in his post-match press conference.
“At the end of the day it’s decided in the boxes, they scored one goal, we didn’t for that amount of time we spent around the box, the clear-cut chances we had, we didn’t put them in the goal because they have an exceptional goalkeeper today, and because we didn’t have enough quality to break them down.
“It’s what we have. The players we haven’t done it in this league. World-class players have been in the league for 10 years. I am the first one to defend them, to support them, you see how they tried. The only way to do it is to insist. What happened today might happen next week or the next month.”
Arsenal faces Chelsea on Wednesday before taking on Manchester United and West Ham in a pivotal period.
Asked how big of an opportunity Arsenal had missed in making up ground on Tottenham, Arteta said: “Huge. It is very disappointing and difficult to explain with words, but this is sport, it’s what makes it different to any other.
“I can’t remember a game Arsenal have played this season [where we have] created more and better. But the result in the end is what we need to be where we have to be. If we’re not able to do that, we’re not going to be there.”