Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta blamed his side’s Premier League defeat on an inability to ‘put the game to bed’ as Brighton’s Neal Maupay ended an action-filled afternoon with a 95th-minute winner.
In the first half, Maupay challenged for the ball with Arsenal’s goalkeeper Bernd Leno which led to the German landing awkwardly, forcing him to leave the pitch on a stretcher. Arsenal took the lead through Nicolas Pépé but eventually lost 2-1 with Maupay again coming to the fore.
A melee broke out on the pitch following the full-time whistle as some frustrated members of the Arsenal squad confronted Maupay, with Matteo Guendouzi grabbing his compatriot by the throat. Maupay later claimed that Arsenal’s players ‘had been talking a lot’ throughout the game and ‘got what they deserved’.
Arteta addressed the unsavoury post-match exploits of some of his players, explaining (via The Telegraph): “Yeah it’s the frustration because we threw the game away.”
Maupay approached Arteta at half-time to apologise for the role he played in Leno’s injury and the Arsenal boss was keen to defend the 23-year-old.
He added: “I always believe players don’t go out to injure [others]. We had more than one opportunity to put the game to bed so we cannot use that as an excuse.”
This defeat comes three days after a humbling 3-0 loss to Manchester City on Wednesday night. Arsenal’s faint hopes of qualifying for Champions League football looked slim in midweek as Arteta declared that there was ‘no margin for error’ only to stumble at the next hurdle.
The 38-year-old Spaniard recognised the low morale the post-lockdown results will have on his squad, adding: “Absolutely, when you lose two games the hardest thing is to lift the players up.”
But with games coming thick and fast to conclude the interrupted campaign, Arteta will only have until Thursday to reinvigorate his deflated side as Arsenal travel to Southampton in search of their first points since the Premier League’s return.