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Arteta reacts to question marks over Arsenal’s physicality

Mikel Arteta has reacted to question marks regarding Arsenal’s physicality and his desire to create ‘the perfect squad’.

Arsenal’s have dropped to second in the Premier League table after a four-game winless run, with Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat at Manchester City leaving the latter in pole position to claim the title.

 

The manner of the Gunners’ defeat at the Etihad has led to question marks regarding Arteta’s side and some have suggested Arsenal’s lack of physicality has contributed to dropped points this season.

Arsenal have struggled against the presence of players including Brentford’s Ivan Toney and City’s Erling Haaland this season and Arteta was asked whether his side need to add physicality to their technical attributes in order to be crowned champions.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Chelsea, Arteta said several sides have succeeded without physically imposing players and discussed his task to find the right balance in the squad.

“You think you might go in that direction,” Arteta said of adding physical players at his pre-match press conference.

“City playing with Fernandinho, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Kun [Sergio] Agüero, Raheem Sterling — 100 points. Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Pedro — six titles. Good players. Incredible players. At the right moment they step up. They love what they do. They create the right chemistry. You have them and they’re two metres tall like this? Even better. Great. Are they good enough technically? Are they sharp enough? Can they turn? The perfect machine, that’s what we all want. Give me 24 of those. We are looking for the perfect squad and hopefully we can find it.”

Arteta said it would take time to build ‘the perfect team’ as Arsenal look to compete with the top sides in England and Europe. The Gunners have exceeded expectations to challenge for the title this season and have already confirmed Champions League qualification for the first time since 2016/17.

“It takes time to build the perfect team and you don’t do it in one, two or three years,” he said. “City have had a lot of good decisions and we are trying to do something different. You cannot copy and paste. At the Emirates [a 3-1 defeat in February] we played the same and could have won. At the end we didn’t. Why? Because when they raised that level a little more, boom, they took the game in individual moments. That’s what we have to recognise and not accept.”

Arteta believes his team are capable of taking their game to ‘a different level’ in ‘moments’, but insists an ability to do so on the big occasion will determine whether the Gunners can win major trophies.

“We have moments where we play to a different level,” he said. “Man City have moments where they play to a different level. Liverpool can take the game to a different level. It’s when that happens that is important. Are you able to raise that level on this occasion? That’s what we didn’t do the other day.”

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