Arsenal's Mikel Arteta blames injury crisis for 'unprecedented' team in Chelsea loss

Posted Monday, August 23, 2021 by ESPN

Arsenal's Mikel Arteta blames injury crisis for 'unprecedented' team in Chelsea loss

Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal's injury crisis forced him into picking a team "unprecedented in the history of this club" but urged his players not to feel sorry for themselves after a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea.

Arsenal are 19th in the Premier League table after two weeks, suffering a second consecutive loss as Romelu Lukaku marked his return to Chelsea with the opening goal at Emirates Stadium before Reece James doubled their lead.

Arteta was without nine first-team players as Ben White (illness), Gabriel (knee), Thomas Partey (ankle), Hector Bellerin (thigh), and Eddie Nketiah (ankle) joined Alexandre Lacazette, Willian and Alex Runarsson on the sidelines after the latter trio tested positive for Covid-19.

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was only able to manage a 29-minute cameo from the bench.

"It is really challenging," he said. "At the moment we are missing nine players and the majority of them are big senior players..

"It is what we have. We put out there a team that it would probably be unprecedented in the history of this football club.

"But credit to the boys, how they are trying, the passion they are bringing to the team. They are playing with a lot of courage in this situation, which is tough.

"They are trying their best and at the moment it is not enough to win football matches."

Arsenal have a Carabao Cup tie against West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday (stream live on ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET in U.S.) before a daunting trip to Manchester City next weekend. Asked how he will rally his squad ahead of facing the current Premier League champions, Arteta said: "We try to give them confidence and the tools and belief that football changes really quickly.

"The league and the table is not going to be decided in August. I don't want to see anybody feeling sorry for themselves or for the squad, or for the team because that's not going to help us.

"I want a team and individuals who want to fight, that want to face the challenge that is ahead of us. Normally when you do that, at some stage you are going to get the rewards and that's what I'm going to try to do with them."

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