In the post-match press conference following Arsenal’s nervy 3-1 win against Olympiacos in the Europa League first-leg tie, our friend Nick Callow presented Mikel Arteta with a very interesting question…
Callow asked whether the Gunners are their own ‘biggest opponent’ and whether talk that they are their ‘own worst enemy’ is accurate. Arteta responded with ‘Yeah, they are not far off.’
Arsenal took the lead in the 33rd minute but almost lost it minutes before halftime after some shaky play out of the back from David Luiz almost resulted in a goal – certainly spurred by the star’s no-look feats.
The Gunners did not learn their lesson and paid the price in the 57th minute, Dani Ceballos tried to dribble out of danger after a risky pass from Bernd Leno and Youssef El-Arabi scooped up to score.
Arteta admitted that the goals and the chances conceded are ‘coming from ourselves’.
The Spaniard wanted to look at the positive of this, once the errors are hammered out, the team will be much stronger in some wishful thinking from the Arsenal boss.
“That’s really positive, because the moment we stop it obviously we’re going to be stronger, but the reality is that we have to stop it immediately.”
“If not, the games are all the time there to drop points.”
“It’s my responsibility, I make them play the way we want to play, it’s just understanding the risk and reward – when they are, the balls that we have to play, and as I said before when.”
“We have to get better, if not, it creates tension and insecurity, it creates belief in the opponent and it’s unnecessary.”
Arsenal sit 10th in the Premier League table so the Europa League once again offers them their best chance of returning to the elite Champions League competition.
With that in mind, perhaps the philosophy Arteta is trying to utilise should take a backseat in these fixtures, a spot that could change the falling club’s short and medium-term trajectory is literally at risk.
Arsenal do play some lovely football in possession at times, but they really don’t need to be trying to play out of pressure when they’re backed down in their own defensive third, it’s a proven recipe for their disaster.