Premier League English

Frustrated Arteta apologises to supporters after Brighton defeat

A frustrated Gunners’ boss Mikel Arteta tendered his apologies to supporters after being blitzed 3-0 loss at home by Brighton, which all but ended their Premier League title hopes.

Second-half goals from Julio Enciso, Deniz Undav and Pervis Estupinan chalked up another well-deserved victory for the Seagulls at the Emirates, with this meaning that Manchester City need only one more win from their final three games to defend their crown.

As things stand, City could be champions as early as Saturday night if Arsenal lose at Nottingham Forest as the gap between the top two are now four points, and Pep Guardiola’s side are still holding a game in hand on the Gunners, who have surprisingly failed to win five of their last seven matches.

“A really different feeling to the feeling we all had last Sunday (at Newcastle) when we felt proud and we felt that we really did what we needed to win in certain moments. Today is completely the opposite,” said Arteta.

“We have to apologise to our people, especially for the second half. What I have to accept first is what happened in the second half and digest it.

“After that until it’s mathematically over… the second position is secure. That’s not going to change. We have to digest and that will take a few days.

“At the moment it’s just frustration. The feeling that we gave the game away in the second half. We fought really hard to be in the position that we are in and today we were in a critical moment to keeping hoping and digging for that dream.

“When you have to play in these moments you cannot do what we did in the second half.

“Then we have to look. If a team is capable of doing that when it comes to the biggest stage, there’s a lot of things to analyse and think about because it cannot happen.”

Understandably Manchester City’s confidence-boosting 3-0 victory at Everton earlier in the day had intensified the chokehold on Arsenal as they put up a valiant start despite losing Gabriel Martinelli to an ankle injury after 19 minutes.

Arsenal’s profligacy was evident in the first half beginning with Gabriel Jesus testing Jason Steele midway through the opening 45, after which Leandro Trossard clipped the crossbar with a swerving effort before Bukayo Saka dragged an effort wide from 14 yards at the end of a stuttering first half.

Brighton stepped things up a clear notch and punished the Gunners’ wastefulness straight after half-time when Estupinan followed up his blocked cross with a scuffed center that Enciso headed home for his third goal of the season.

A reflective Arteta added: “Obviously what the team has done over the last 10 months is very different to what anybody expected and that generates a lot of expectation as well [as] enthusiasm, happiness and joy.

“That’s something that has to be managed in the right way and after we have the responsibility to make sure the team performs and I am responsible for that.

“So, I hate the feeling of letting people down when they are expecting something. That’s the biggest regret I have today and I have to apologise for that.”

The emotions were totally different for Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi, who was made to laugh off comparisons with Jose Mourinho after he sashayed off down the touchline to celebrate Undav’s goal, despite insisting that nothing had been achieved by his sixth-placed side.

“Yes I am very delighted for the performances. I think we deserved to win but then really happy, really proud because the last five days were very difficult after the defeat on Monday (against Everton),” he said.

“We have 58 points and not enough to qualify for Europe. We have another four games, tough games, Newcastle, Southampton, City and last game Aston Villa and we have to fight to deserve to qualify because 58 points is not enough to play Thursdays next year.”