Mikel Arteta admits he is concerned by the form Arsenal are showing and felt there were many reasons why his side lost to Southampton.
The Gunners travelled to the south coast knowing victory would see them move level with Tottenham in the top-four battle. Spurs’ shock 1-0 loss at home to Brighton earlier in the day gave the Emirates outfit an extra incentive to return to the capital with all three points. But Jan Bednarek netted the only goal of the game one minute before the break to ensure the points remained at St Mary’s.
It was a welcome return to winning ways for Saints after they were hammered 6-0 by Chelsea on their own patch last time out. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side sit 12th and have 39 points to their name.
Arsenal are sixth, level with Manchester United on 54 points. They missed the chance to put pressure on their north London rivals.
And Arteta confessed that wasting so many good chances is always costly in the Premier League.
“It’s a really difficult one to take,” he told BBC Sport. “The way we controlled the game makes it difficult to understand how we lost the game.
“We didn’t hit the target many times and the end product was not as good as it can be. We conceded a very sloppy goal from a set-piece. When you have the amount of situations we created, you need to score three or four.”
Arteta worried by poor run of results
Arsenal looked strong favourites to qualify for the Champions League after a run of five straight wins. However, they have lost four of their past five matches and may not be in the top four on May 22.
Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster was in inspired form, making a string of superb saves. And Arteta admitted that he was the difference between the sides.
“The way we defended for the goal wasn’t good enough. You saw how the team tried. More than ever now, I want to be close to them,” he added.
“Forster was incredible, the saves that he made today. It was a defining moment. That’s why I say the box has decided the game today. You could see the game was one-way traffic.”
Arsenal fans are desperate to see their heroes back in Europe’s elite club competition.
But the run of form means it is by no means certain. And Arteta pulled no punches in his assessment of the current state of affairs.
“It’s a real worry. We’ve lost games in different ways,” he continued. “To lose the way we did today is difficult to explain. If you saw the game, you’d say Arsenal had won comfortably.
“We performed but didn’t get a result. We need both. You have to put the ball in the net.
“You have to make the decisive moments count to win football matches and at the moment we’re not doing that.”