Xenia Sports – London
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta believes Granit Xhaka’s red card in the defeat to Burnley showed how committed his players are to addressing their Premier League slump.
The 10-man Gunners fell to a 1-0 loss, their fourth home league defeat in a row, as a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s own goal settled the game in favor of Burnley – who enjoyed a first-ever win at the Emirates Stadium as a result.
A turgid first half ended with just one shot on target for either side but Arsenal were better immediately following the interval.
They were unable to build on that head of steam as Xhaka was dismissed for grabbing Ashley Westwood round the throat – his initial booking upgraded to a red card after referee Graham Scott consulted the pitchside VAR monitor.
It is the seventh time Arsenal have had a player sent off in the Premier League since Arteta was appointed almost a year ago and the defeat leaves the FA Cup holders just five points above the relegation zone.
Asked if he felt down by Xhaka’s actions, Arteta replied: “Yes. But honestly, I think it was unacceptable to do that action and the players are in a moment that they are so willing to do more and fight more and show how committed they are, to be alive in the game.
“On this occasion, Granit has overstepped the line. We cannot make those mistakes because they’re the wrong approach to what we’re trying to do.
“He’s made a mistake, clearly. The way the game was going, the dominance that we had… it was a game that we had to win and with 10 men it makes it much more difficult. You give the opponent a chance and you end up losing.”
Arsenal could easily have ended the game with nine men after Mohamed Elneny was only cautioned for raising his hands to James Tarkowski moments before Aubameyang turned a Westwood corner into his own goal.
It is the first time in 61 years that Arsenal have lost four consecutive home league games and Arteta admits he is keen to get them back out onto the pitch as soon as possible – with high-flying Southampton travelling to north London on Wednesday.
“I prefer to play in 72 hours, the players are hurting,” he added.
“Thank you so much to the fans because I think they were tremendous behind the team with the support that they were giving, and knowing how difficult it has been for us in this competition in recent weeks.”
Burnley boss Sean Dyche enjoyed a first Premier League win against Arsenal having never seen his team take the lead over the Gunners in the past.
He felt Arsenal responded well to going a man down and commended his players on wrestling control to eventually win the game.
“The 10-man situation gave them something to grow again,” he said.
“The freedom comes weirdly because the expectations changed and they responded well to that, it gave them a cause. They had a couple of chances and then we calmed it down and looked a little more in control of things.
“I’m not going to start questioning sides like Arsenal and the depth of squad they have got there, that is their challenge.”
The win takes Burnley to within four points of Arsenal – but Dyche insists they are not involved in a battle to survive.
“No,” he replied when asked if Arsenal should worry about relegation.
“They have got some excellent players and a manager I’m sure is working hard with his staff. They have got very, very good players and have invested heavily.
“It is refreshing in a way that it is not just us, even the big clubs have time when they find it tough, they will be working hard to get out of it.”