Mikel Arteta is aware that Arsenal will not be gifted a “rose pathway” to the Premier League title after they were beaten 1-0 by Everton.
The Gunners came up against an Everton side who were out to impress Sean Dyche, who was confirmed as the club’s new manager earlier this week.
The Toffees were joint-bottom in the Premier League ahead of this weekend’s game but they restricted Arsenal and won 1-0. James Tarkowski scored the only goal of the game after being played in by Dwight McNeil.
Arsenal were far from their best and they were deservedly beaten in the end. This is their second loss on the bounce following their FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side will close in to within two points of Arsenal if they beat Tottenham on Sunday. Arsenal will still have a game in hand over their rivals, though.
Arteta will certainly hope that this defeat to Everton is a wake-up call for his Arsenal players. Speaking post-match, he admitted that his players “struggled” when Dyche’s side “slowed the game down” after going in front.
“We had loads of the ball but we lacked that purpose and quality in the final third, we generated many chances. But then we conceded and they slowed the game down and we struggled,” Arteta told BT Sport.
“They do this to every team that is their strength with the height, the physicality is their strength, if you want to control the game against them you have to control this. We did not do that today.
“We needed more composure and to control emotionally the game better. We gave away so many unnecessary free-kicks and that’s what they want.
“Today I love them much better than the week before or a month ago. It is easy to be next to someone when they are winning well. I am still so proud of all of these players, they deserve it.
“This is not going to be a rose pathway. This is going to be tricky and we will have to dig in and play much better than we did today.”
Gunners legend Ian Wright meanwhile feels that Everton “deserved” to beat his former club. He also urged Arsenal to “learn from it and move on”.
“Everton deserve that. We have to learn from it and move on,” Wright tweeted.
“Top of the league, everyone is going to be up for playing us. Half chances key in these type of games. Lots for the team to take away from that defeat. We go again boys! Give Sean Dyche his flowers.”