Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has been outlining his ethos admitting his side needs to keep more clean sheets.
Speaking to Sky Sports the Gunners boss has been explaining the demands he expects from his players – and what happens when they are not met.
Arteta once again showed he is capable of making big decisions when required and was not afraid to relegate club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the bench after timekeeping issues prior to the north London derby at the Emirates earlier this month.
"When you have clear ideas and principles, it's about applying them," explains Arteta. "There's no point just telling people what we expect from them, then not making the decisions when those things are not accomplished."
Arsenal certainly shocked fans during the 3-3 draw with West Ham on Sunday. The Gunners went into the match fewer than 72 hours after their second leg Europa League defeat against Olympicos. West Ham had not played since the previous Sunday. Whether or not that mitigates the Hammers being three goals up after 32 minutes is debatable. Is fatigue a factor in the first half normally? You certainly wouldn't have been asking for the betting odds for Arsenal to pull three goals back to improbably draw 3-3. Incidentally for those who do like a punt why not try EM 2021 betting Studying the match it was fair to say Arsenal’s impressive comeback suggested that fitness levels were not the issue. Although at three goals down the scoreline did have had you questioning Arteta and the team.
"There are still margins for improvement," Arteta explained. "Sometimes it's been the game management. Sometimes it's been the poor decision-making. Sometimes it's been a lack of discipline. Those are the things we have to eradicate if we want to fight with the top teams.
"But I'm seeing the direction that we're taking. I'm seeing the energy that we play with, that we train with. I'm seeing the environment that we are creating around Colney and how involved everyone is, including the staff, the board, everybody.
"That gives me a positive feeling, that if we make some good, positive decisions, we will be really strong."
Following the international break, the north Londoners face an important run of fixtures including Liverpool at the Emirates as well as their Europa League quarter-final clash with Slavia Prague after Easter.
Arteta is quietly confident his team is on the right track to become feared once again.
"I think the ratio of what we are creating and conceding is really, really positive,” he explained, adding: “When we look at all the stats in the games, the winning probability is really high all the time."
Arteta also shared his take on Olympiacos’ 1-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates.
"Again, I insist that in possession we weren't at our best, but we still created more than enough chances to win the game," he said, adding, "It was probably not a fair result for what we did on the pitch."
"The solutions have to be found from the players we have,
"I think it's always my responsibility when it's related to things that happen on the pitch," he says. "We have some rules and some principles we have to apply. The worst thing is to send someone out to do certain things and them be scared to do them.
"That's when we have to stay strong. It's about risk and reward. Where you do it and when you do it. You have to get that feeling right and that's obviously a decision for the players to make on the pitch.
"It's true that sometimes, when conceding very little [in terms of chances], we have conceded a goal," Arteta adds, using the recent meetings with Wolves and Burnley as examples.
"We need more clean sheets and we have talked about that. We haven't had enough, even though the defensive performances have been really, really strong."