Mikel Arteta demands big response after Aston Villa dent Arsenal's title hopes

  • Mikel Arteta delivered a rallying cry ahead of Bayern Munich after Sunday's defeat
  • Arsenal beaten 2-0 at home by Aston Villa with Man City ending the weekend on top
  • Gunners are two points behind with six games to go
Mikel Arteta was scrutinised after Sunday's defeat to Aston Villa
Mikel Arteta was scrutinised after Sunday's defeat to Aston Villa / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Mikel Arteta called on his Arsenal players to "stand up and be counted" after Sunday's disappointing 2-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa.

Unai Emery completed the double over his successor in north London as an impressive Villa scored twice in the final ten minutes to boost their top-four hopes. Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins netted for the visitors with Arsenal falling flat in the second half after a profligate opening period.

The defeat was all the more crushing given that Liverpool had earlier faltered at Anfield, losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace. The two sides remain on 71 points with Manchester City, the big winners of the weekend, now two points clear at the summit having beaten Luton Town 5-1 on Saturday.

Mikel Arteta demands big response after Aston Villa dent Arsenal's title hopes

Ollie Watkins, Emile Smith Rowe, David Raya
Ollie Watkins scored Villa's second on the counter / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

There was understandable rotation to Arteta's XI given that Sunday's bout arrived in the middle of a Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich. Gabriel Jesus and Leandro Trossard were both rewarded with starts after bright midweek cameos, while Oleksandr Zinchenko also came into the side.

All three, though, proved to be hinderances on Sunday. While Trossard and Jesus missed first half chances, Zinchenko produced a woeful second half showing.

Arteta refused to discuss team selection post-match, but he did offer a strong rallying cry ahead of Wednesday's trip to Munich.

"If one result is going to do that then we are not strong enough. That’s very simple," he told football.london. "We had one of the best performances that we’ve had all season in the first half against a really good team. It should have been three or four or more. It didn’t happen. In the second half, the momentum shifted. We could not control and generate what we did in the first half.

"We conceded two very poor goals and we lost the game. Congratulate the opponent and stand up. Now the moment is to stand up and be counted. When you win and win and win for four months it’s very simple to do it. The moment to do it is now," the boss added.

While City hold the advantage, twists and turns are to be expected with six games to go. Arsenal were flat on Sunday and there will undoubtedly be concerns about the drop-off of intensity in the second period. A major upsurge is required on Wednesday for that is a monumental second leg in Munich.

"We have a beautiful opportunity that hasn’t happened for 14 years in this club to go to the semi-finals of the Champions League. It couldn’t come in a better moment," a confident Arteta cried.