Granit Xhaka rubbishes 'mindset' criticism from Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta after West Ham draw
- Gunners dropping important points
- Lost leads vs Liverpool & Hammers
- Four points clear of Manchester City
WHAT HAPPENED? While the north London outfit remain top of the table, they have thrown away two-goal leads to drop precious points in their last two outings at Liverpool and West Ham. Arteta said after witnessing an early burst out of the blocks from his side against the Hammers fail to deliver anything more than a 2-2 draw: “When the game is there for the killing, you have to do it. When you don’t have that ruthless mindset in the Premier League, at some stage the momentum will turn around.”
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WHAT THEY SAID: Combative midfielder Xhaka insists mental strength is not an issue inside the Arsenal camp, with the Switzerland international saying: “This is not about our mentality and I am certain everyone will see a reaction against Southampton on Friday. Everything is still in our own hands if we win our remaining games, so nothing has changed on that front. We go into our next matches with the same objective, we’re not looking at what Manchester City are doing.
“Sunday’s game was similar to the match at Liverpool last week where we started very well, scored two goals but couldn’t get the win. We need to analyse why this happened twice in a row. But if anyone thinks that we’d get to this point of this season by smashing all our opponents without dropping points, I think they’re not in the right position. We are disappointed and when things are not going well it’s easy to show the finger to someone else. But now is the time for everyone to be together. We have taken on a challenge which no one was thinking about before this season started and now we have seven games to go, so let’s carry on.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Bukayo Saka missed what proved to be an important penalty against West Ham, but Xhaka is backing him to step up to the spot again if needed. He added: “The reason we didn’t win the last two games is because we gave away too many easy goals and nobody is blaming Bukayo for the penalty miss. The guy is so strong mentally so we’re not worried about him. It’s not as though we’re saying ‘if he scores the game is finished’ because there were another ten players on the pitch. He needs our support more but he will bounce back and show a reaction in our next game. If we get another penalty against Southampton, I will push him to take it.”
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WHAT NEXT? Arsenal are four points clear at the top of the Premier League table, but Manchester City boast a game in hand and are counting down the days to a crunch clash with the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium on April 26.