Mikel Arteta gave a bizarre explanation for his side’s poor finishing in the 1-0 loss at Aston Villa on Saturday evening, while pundits also agreed on a critical decision that went against Arsenal at Villa Park.
The Gunners suffered just their second Premier League defeat of the season as they went down to John McGinn’s seventh-minute strike in a tightly-contested, despite the visitors dominating for large periods.
Arteta’s men failed to convert some clear-cut chances as they failed to convert their control into goals on a frustrating evening.
Captain Martin Odegaard went closest in each half, sending a left-footed effort into the clutches of former Gunners stopper Emi Martinez in the first 45 minutes before guiding a pull-back wide of the far post in the second.
Arsenal had five shots on target to Villa’s three and Arteta claimed his side’s issue was largely down to the weather on an extremely windy evening at Villa Park.
Asked if there is anything he can do about his players’ profligacy, Arteta replied: “I think it was a bit windy today.
“You see a lot of misplaced balls or not having the right touch or not having the right accuracy in certain passes.
“I don’t know. But for sure I have a responsibility [to improve their finishing], I have to take it, yeah.”
On all the missed chances, he added: “Yeah we had so many big opportunities that we couldn’t finish when they were completely open to shoot.
“We had two or three open goals almost that we couldn’t manage to score. There’s not much more that we could have demanded from the players than what we got today.
“We’re very disappointed because we didn’t get the result that we wanted.”
Asked if feels that Villa are also serious contenders for the title, Arteta added: “Anybody that can win lots of games in a row. It will be in the hands of all us to merit to win every single week to be up there. Certainly they are right now.”
Villa’s victory certainly came with controversy though as Arsenal were denied a late equaliser due to a controversial Kai Havertz handball.
Wright, Lineker both fume over disallowed Arsenal equaliser
Indeed, Gunners legend Ian Wright was left seething with the decision on Match of the Day and was backed up by presenter Gary Lineker.
Both claimed that the handball rule, which states that a goal will be ruled out if hits the hand/arm of the goalscorer whilst leading to a goal is unfair on the attacking team.
🗣️ ‘Unfortunately it’s the rule. It’s a terrible rule… it’s ridiculous and it has cost Arsenal a goal’ ❌
Jamie Redknapp says Kai Havertz’s goal being ruled out for handball is ‘rubbish’ 👇 pic.twitter.com/X4qXuOQ1TF
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 9, 2023
That was the case here, with Lineker calling it ‘bizarre’ and questioning ‘why are they trying to stop goals?, with Wright adding that it’s ‘the most ridiculous law in all of law’.
“This is the moment for me,” said Wright. “The ball is so close to everybody. It has hit Matty Cash’s hand and Havertz’s hand.
“But the law says ‘it can’t hit your hand anywhere if it leads to the goal and you score’. It’s the most ridiculous law.”
Lineker responded: “Defenders can accidentally handball it, but the forwards can’t. Why are we trying to stop goals? The people who make the laws of the game. Why are they doing that?! It’s bizarre.”
Wright then added: “It’s ridiculous. It’s the most ridiculous law in all of law, not just football. All law in the whole world. The whole multiverse.”
Arsenal will be looking to get back to winning ways when they take on PSV in the Champions League on Tuesday evening.