Football News

Arteta admits Chelsea flattened Arsenal plan for Lukaku, as tactical flaw gets brunt of blame

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted that Chelsea broke through his plan to stop debutant Romelu Lukaku from enjoying his Premier League return.

The Belgium international starred on his first English top-flight game since 2019 with a goal inside 15 minutes. Indeed, he was making his second debut for Chelsea and ensured he made an instant impact this time around. As for Arsenal, though, their struggles continued and it is now two 2-0 defeats to start the season.

They have yet to score a goal, either, and those statistics subsequently see them occupy a spot in the relegation zone.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Arteta admitted Chelsea – whose second goal was scored by Reece James – deserved to win. He added that the struggles in regaining the ball did not help his players.

“They were the better team. When they play at their best, which I think they did today, they are champions of Europe, have world class players and to match at that level is difficult,” the Spaniard said.

“You can always do things better. In the first half, we had some difficulties. It took us a long time to regain the ball in wide areas.

“When we did it and we looked a threat, we didn’t finish enough actions with the quality we need to.

“We concede two goals but the way the team responded and the crowd really helped because they never gave up, it gave us hope in the second half.”

Lukaku scored his goal in the trademark fashion which has earned him a reputation as one of Europe’s deadliest strikers.

He held off the Arsenal defence, dropped the ball off and bullied his way into the box for a tap-in from James’ cross.

Arteta admits Arsenal, Lukaku struggles

Asked about how his side planned to stop Lukaku, Arteta said: “You can do it in different ways. You can do it having an extra man in the first phase of the build-up, or going man-to-man with them.

“They have the capacity to break and read those situations either way. They play the ball to Lukaku at the moment, that’s why they’ve done it and after that it becomes a really open situation.

“So yeah you have to measure the risk when you do that.”

Some of the returning Arsenal fans at the Emirates Stadium booed off the players at half time.

However, Arteta said: “I see a lot of positives with the crowd and the team today. The way they supported the team from the beginning. At the end I didn’t see any bad reaction with the players.

“It is one of the difficult moments. The circumstances are difficult and unprecedented. Feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t help. You have to win football matches, keep it together and show spirit.

“Starting tomorrow in training with the players which did not play. We need to win the game midweek and that will help against Manchester City next weekend.”

Arsenal face West Brom in Carabao Cup action on Wednesday.

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