Under-pressure Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says the club’s upcoming fixtures will decide their season after Manchester City sent them crashing out of the League Cup on Tuesday night.
Arsenal lost 4-1 at home to City, with Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte all scoring for the visitors after Alexandre Lacazette cancelled out Gabriel Jesus’ opener.
The quarter-final defeat heaps more misery on Arsenal, who are 15th in the Premier League, and while Arteta says “strange things are happening” in their matches, he believes he has “fighters” in the squad as they prepare to host Chelsea in the Premier League on Boxing Day.
“Against this level of opponent they penalise you and make it very difficult,” Arteta said on Sky Sports after the City defeat.
"We have a great counter-attack moment but they then score in an offside position and you end up losing the game again.
It’s a hard one to take considering how the game went. This level of opponent, when you give the goals away it makes the game impossible. A lot of strange things are happening in every game and that makes things really difficult.
"We have to turn it around round - there is no question with the fixtures we have it’s going to decide our season. On the basis of what we have shown tonight against difficult opponents, I have fighters in my team. Yes, I have fighters."
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Pep Guardiola stressed Arteta, his former assist at City, remains an “incredible” manager despite the run of poor results.
"I didn’t speak with him,” Guardiola told Sky Sports. “What can I say, everybody knows we are judged on results. He can defend himself perfectly.
"I worked with him, we cannot have had our success without him. He is an incredible manager. I know his proposals and what he will do. Not even a little run of bad results is going to change my opinion."
Aymeric Laporte of Manchester City celebrates after scoring their team's fourth goal with teammates Rodri and Phil Foden during the Carabao Cup Quarter Final match between Arsenal and Manchester City
Image credit: Getty Images
Guardiola added to reporters that it would be a "big mistake" if the Arsenal board do not stick with Arteta
He said: "They will do a huge, big mistake if they... I’m pretty sure they are going to trust him. I understand for the analysts, analyse the results. But I was with him many years and I know his incredible quality as a human being and especially as a manager, how he is involved in everything. It’s just a question of time and he will do well.
"I’m not on the board. For me they will do a big mistake if they are thinking… They give him the confidence, they won two titles when for a long time ago it didn’t happen at this club. In this pandemic situation, with injury problems they have and the games they played always they played good.
"But unfortunately these games is our job and it depends on the results. But football changes in one week so quick.
"I can speak about my experience alongside him, one of the most incredible successful teams in English history we had and he was part of this success and it would not be possible without him, and to create something like this you need time like I had in my first season."
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Mahrez surprised by Runarsson
City, who have won the trophy for the last three seasons, went in front in the third minute with a header from Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus.
Mikel Arteta's struggling Arsenal side drew level in the 31st minute through a fine diving header from Alexandre Lacazette but City took charge after the break.
A mistake by Arsenal goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson gifted the visitors a 2-1 lead in the 54th as he let a relatively harmless Riyad Mahrez free-kick through his arms.
Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte then scored to wrap up the win for Pep Guardiola's side and added to the troubles of the Gunners who are languishing in 15th spot in the Premier League, only four points above the relegation zone.
Mahrez admitted he was surprised to see where Runarsson was standing before the winger scored City’s second goal.
Mahrez told Sky Sports: "I was surprised by the position of the goalkeeper; he was so close to the post. I thought he was going to a move a little bit, that’s why I put the shot there, but he didn’t move. Lucky he didn’t catch it properly and it was good for us.”
He added: "It was a solid performance, we started well, they equalised but in the second half we scored with the lucky free-kick.
“Then was scored a third and it was easier for us after that. Sometimes you cannot dominate every game, and if you don’t score the second goal you leave yourself open to the opposition scoring. But in the second half we made it easier for ourselves with our second, third and fourth goals."
Additional reporting from Reuters