Mikel Arteta on Arsenal defeat to Aston Villa: I take full responsibility

Arsenal boss left frustrated after Aston Villa ran riot with 3-0 win at The Emirates; Ollie Watkins scored twice in a dominant performance from Dean Smith's side; Arsenal drop to 11th in Premier League table

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Mikel Arteta says he takes responsibility for Arsenal's poor performance and says it's now up to his players to react in the right way after the international break

Mikel Arteta took full responsibility for Arsenal's 3-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa on Sunday, saying "we weren't a team".

Victory at Old Trafford last weekend was another step in the right direction under Arteta, and the Spaniard would have expected his side to build on that morale-boosting result.

However, they slipped to 11th with this defeat and Arteta wasn't impressed with what he saw.

"First of all congratulations to Aston Villa for the way they played and the victory," he told Sky Sports.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Aston Villa’s win over Arsenal in the Premier League

"After that, we performed below our standards and I have to say it's the first time I've seen us play and we weren't a team.

"I take full responsibility. We didn't start well enough, we got away with VAR for an offside situation but we lost all the races, the duels and we were sloppy on the ball. When we created chances we didn't hit the target. It's a really bad combination. We left spaces and on the counter we looked really vulnerable.

"I take full responsibility. I am responsible to make the team perform on the pitch and today we were not a team and it is my job. It is why I am standing here.

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"It is a frustration. It takes a lot to build momentum, to build a way of being, living and performing and when something like that comes up it's a hard one to take but in a hard moment you learn more than in a positive moment and I want to see how we react."

Speaking in his press conference, he added: "I didn't see the spirit for the first time - and it's totally my fault as that's why I'm here. Today I've not managed to get the team to play at the highest level like we need to every three days.

"I'm struggling to find the reason but obviously there was something there today. They wanted it more than us. If you can't defend your box, it's a really complicated way to win football matches.

"We need to be more ruthless but today it was about how we went about the job and who we were as a team. I didn't like it from the first whistle when we got away with the goal and then afterwards. It just wasn't good enough."

Smith: Just as good as Liverpool performance

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Dean Smith was delighted with his side's performance in their win over Arsenal, particularly the defensive side of their game

The fine away victory was a real statement of intent from Dean Smith's Villa, who have now beaten Liverpool, Leicester and Arsenal this season. It's a result that lifts them up to sixth in the Premier League - with a game in hand. Win that and they would go level on points with leaders Leicester.

"Personally, I felt it was as good a performance as when we beat Liverpool 7-2," Smith told Sky Sports.

"Our work without the ball was the most pleasing aspect of it. We worked with the whole 11 to restrict a good Arsenal team.

Watkins heads in the first of his two goals over a dreadful Arsenal
Image: Ollie Watkins heads in the first of his two goals over a dreadful Arsenal

"We looked so composed and played with such intensity with and without the ball. We were a threat whenever we went forward. It was a really top performance. The players are really excited about the win after the last two results. We were in no doubt we had to be at our best tonight."

Ollie Watkins, who helped himself to a hat-trick against Liverpool, has adapted quickly at this level - but Smith was never in doubt that the 24-year-old would swiftly make the step-up in class.

"I was always confident that he would hit the ground running," he added. "The kid's a young lad but he's played 250 games. He was a regular at Exeter and at Brentford. When you've played that number of games, you understand it. Working with better players helps him, that's for sure."

What's next?

Arsenal travel to face Leeds live on Sky Sports Premier League on Sunday, November 22; kick-off is at 4.30pm.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa host Brighton on Saturday, November 21 at 3pm.

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