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Arteta won’t concede EPL title despite Arsenal’s defeat to Man City

ARSENAL manager Mikel Arteta has insisted that his side are still in with a shout of winning the English Premier League title even after last night’s loss to their major rivals Manchester City.

The Gunners were outclassed 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium by an imperious City side, who closed the gap at the top of the table to within two points and still have two games in hand.

Arteta, who used to work as an assistant coach under City manager Pep Guardiola, admitted that the hosts were on another level last night.

“The analysis is clear: the better team won the game. They were probably at their best, especially in the first half, and we were nowhere near our level,” he told his post-match press conference.

“When that happens, the gap becomes too big and in the first 30 minutes we didn’t do all the basic things that you have to do against an exceptional team, in terms of competing, winning duels and understanding what the game requires. We got punished and we could have been punished even more.”

Still, the Spaniard believes his side have a shot at their first Premier League title in 19 years, even as Opta has reduced their chances to just eight per cent and increased City’s to 92 per cent.

“The stats said at the start of the season that Arsenal were going to finish sixth or seventh. We are where we are with five games to go,” he stressed.

“Those players deserve a lot of credit, to be where we are after nine and a half months. There are still five games to play.

“I’ve been in this country for nearly 22 years and I’ve seen a lot of things; I know how much it shifts from game to game. There are no two equal games in this league.

“First of all, we have to lift our players, because they suffered tonight. They played against an exceptional team – they know that. But we’re an exceptional team as well and today we weren’t at the races at the level that was required to win the game.”

When asked why Arsenal players failed to do the basics during the game, Arteta replied: “I prefer to keep that [with] my players. They (City) were better in every department.

“They were more aggressive, they kept the ball better, they won every single duel. We had them in the corners and from there, in two passes, they were in front of our goal. We conceded from a set play and from a throw-in against us too easily. They deserved to win the game because they were better.”

Arteta retained most of the players that featured in the 3-3 draw at home to Southampton and explained that any plans to contain City went out of the window after Kevin De Bruyne’s seventh minute opener.

He said: “We wanted to tweak a few things but they were able to execute and score an early goal. You have to understand where we’re coming from – we have to be loyal to what has brought us all this way.

“We’ve done it in the past in different ways and that doesn’t guarantee you anything. It’s time to look in the mirror at what we could have done better – I’m the first one – and go into the next game.”

Arsenal have now gone four Premier League games without a win, their worst sequence this season, and Arteta vowed that the team would learn from the setback.

“We have to accept the reality – that’s the best way to move forward,” he offered. Accept that today they were better than us, that they deserved to win the game, that we never had a chance to win the game and that we have to improve, be better and be humble enough to accept that. In sport, you have to do that if you want to be better.

“For sure we have to first lift the players up, because they suffered tonight and it was a difficult one to swallow. We’ll lift them up tomorrow and do everything we’ve done so far so well in the next match to earn the right to win [the next game]. That’s where we have to start right now.”

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