Arteta: Time to end Gunners’ gaffes
Boss’s message to stars ahead of north London derby clash
11 March, 2021 — By Steve Barnett
MIKEL Arteta has issued a call for calm in a desperate bid to stop his Arsenal players from making more costly mistakes on the pitch.
It makes grim reading for the Gunners, but since 2017 they have conceded the most penalties in the Premier League (23), made the most errors leading to a goal (35) and been shown the most red cards (14).
Another serious gaffe cost them on Saturday when Granit Xhaka’s errant pass struck Chris Wood to gift Burnley a bizarre equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor.
This Sunday’s opponents certainly won’t need any encouragement in front of goal as Arsenal welcome north London rivals Tottenham to the Emirates Stadium.
And Arteta is hoping “the rewards will outweigh the risks” when the Gunners tackle Jose Mourinho’s now free-scoring side.
“It’s very difficult because a lot is expected in the situation of a football match, but then emotionally we have to be much more calm and much more secure,” admitted the Arsenal boss. “We have to manage the games much better in certain situations and that comes with maturity and that comes from learning. The positive thing is that I think it’s in our control and it’s not something that the opponents are doing and we can’t control it.
“I think it’s easier to fix but we have to fix it very quickly because, if not, the margins are so small you are close to losing points all the time.”
Meanwhile, Arteta has challenged his players to win the next five games and keep their season alive. The derby is sandwiched in the middle of the two-legged tie against Greek champions Olympiakos in the Europa League, followed by Premier League games away at West Ham and at home against Liverpool.
Arteta said: “I am always very positive.
“What we need is to put together four or five wins in a row. If we are able to do that then things are going to look very different in two or three weeks’ time.
“If we don’t, obviously we don’t have a chance. When we have had an opportunity to do it [in the past] we haven’t done it consistently enough.
“So it is completely down to us but I want to think there is still a lot to play for and we have to be with that mindset because, if not, it is completely impossible.”
Arsenal will be looking for revenge tonight (Thursday) when they take on Olympiakos, the side that knocked them out of the Europa League last season. The last-16 tie at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens kicks off at 8pm.