Mikel Arteta dished out a heated response during his Arsenal press conference.
Having seen his Arsenal side make it six wins from six from their 2020/21 Europa League group stage campaign, Mikel Arteta responded angrily to one of the questions posed to him post-match.
Eddie Nketiah had put the visitors ahead with a smartly taken lob, with Mohamed Elneny doubling the advantage with a thunderous drive to put Arsenal in cruise control after 18 minutes.
Dundalk hit back through Jordan Flores, although parity was restored as Folarin Balogun set up Joe Willock in the second half before calmly slotting home a fourth with ten minutes to go. Sean Hoare reduced the deficit round off the scoring on Thursday night.
During his post-match press conference after the win in Ireland, a question was posed to Arteta about the number of crosses his side produced at the Aviva Stadium. It’s an area of Arsenal’s play that the Spaniard had been adamant would produce goals for this side, a ploy which ultimately failed after the Wolves defeat with no less than 44 crosses being produced against Sp*rs, none leading to a goal.
On Thursday Arsenal whipped in 16 deliveries from wide areas, although all four of their goals came from other avenues.
Goal’s Charles Watts asked Arteta to discuss whether he would prefer his side to play in the manner they had as opposed to endless crossing, but the manager refused to be drawn on the incident, evidently not pleased with the narrative that has been built around this method of delivery with the manner of his response.
Accusing fellow reporters as laughing amid the question, it’s clear something isn’t right.
As recounted by Watts, who labelled the incident ‘a bit odd’, Arteta is beginning to feel the pressure of his previous comments, which could stem from a number of reasons.
Even the supporters who’ve backed Arteta to the hills have questioned his approach to scoring goals, particularly highlighted by the insistence on whipping balls in for the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, neither of whom are known for their aerial prowess.
Arsenal found better spaces coming in off the flanks against Dundalk through neat link-up play, primarily from Emile Smith Rowe, with crossing an afterthought on the night.
Whether Arteta has realised the error of his ways, or lost his rag as a result of his previous comments being misinterpreted in some way, the reaction was directed in a way to deflect from the discussion and move on swiftly. Some turnaround.
With Burnley to come on Sunday, Sean Dyche would highly favour the former. His side are expected to pack the box at the Emirates and invite deliveries coming in from either flank as opposed to intricate build-up play in the final third. James Tarkowski and Ben Mee will eat up crosses all game long.
From the supporters’ perspective, the incessant nature of Arsenal’s approach in the North London Derby was a source of constant frustration, with balls being flung seemingly for the sake of it. Hit and hope, whip and wince.
While the argument could be made that Arsenal were even less aerially imposing on Thursday, any change of personnel for Sunday won’t produce a different outcome.
A method that can be abandoned? Arteta’s displeasure at the topic suggests so.