Mikel Arteta said his Arsenal players needed to show more “emotional control” after full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko was hauled off the pitch at full-time in their second league win of the season.
The Premier League leaders put on a lackluster display at Goodison Park as Everton recorded a rare victory in Sean Dyche’s first game since replacing Frank Lampard as manager.
On an evening when Arsenal’s players struggled to keep their composure, Arteta had to intervene after Ukraine’s Zinchenko tackled Everton forward Neal Maupay in the closing moments of the game, although Zinchenko was far from the only player to lose his cool in a febrile atmosphere. on Merseyside.
“We needed more comfort and to control the game better emotionally,” said Arteta. exactly what they are [Everton] wanting.
“[Everton wanted] slow the game down, do everything really long, play long into your line and do not play enough. We didn’t do that well enough.”
Arteta rejected suggestions that his players’ lack of comfort was to do with the pressure of the title race, with Manchester City now in a position to close the gap to two points if they beat Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Arsenal have now lost their last three away games at Everton, but, while Arteta has been critical of his players in the past, he said this evening had not made him “love” his team any more.
“I want the team to know how much I love them,” Arteta said. “I love them much more now than three hours ago, a week ago, a month ago, three months ago. It is very easy to be close to the players when they are winning and performing.
“These are the moments when I love my players and my team more and we will stay together. This journey will be difficult and challenging and there will be big stones in the middle and we have to overcome that.”
Dyche said the result, secured by James Tarkowski’s second-half header, was just the first step for his players and warned they will have more work to do from Monday morning onwards.
“There is some basis for belief,” said Dyche. “It has nothing to do with former managers and coaches, I try to express my thoughts and the players have ownership.
“I told the players after the game that it’s a starting point. A win is important, a clean sheet is great, [but] come in on Monday because you will be working. And they will work.
“We’ve condensed five weeks of pre-season planning into five days and the players have done a great job of absorbing that. We want to give them the freedom to have fun but you have to do the basics and it starts with the hard yards.”