Mikel Arteta was far from happy with Arsenal’s performance in their final friendly before the Premier League restart despite publicly saying the game was primarily a fitness exercise. After comfortably brushing aside Charlton in a 6-0 win in their first behind-closed-doors friendly at the Emirates nearly two weeks ago, the Gunners were stunned by Championship side Brentford in a 3-2 defeat last Wednesday. Arsenal took the lead twice but the visitors capitalised on some calamitous defending in the second half as goals from Halil Dervisoglu and Shandon Baptiste secured the win.
Although Arteta stressed that the purpose of the game was to help the players find their rhythm before facing Manchester City, The Athletic report that he was ‘angry’ with his players afterwards. The Spanish coach was unhappy with the nature of certain performances and let those players know in no uncertain terms why he was so disappointed. David Luiz in particular was guilty of playing particularly badly, trying to dribble out from the back but losing possession and not getting back in position quickly enough to prevent Brentford from scoring. Arteta is keen to ensure that Arsenal’s players maintain the highest possible standards, even in friendly games, and those expectations were not met against Brentford
We’re trying to give minutes in their legs to all of the players, obviously you have to change a lot of players through the games. Getting adapted to playing in an empty stadium as well, not having that energy from the fans. ‘It was good, we played two friendlies, we’re getting a bit of rhythm, we haven’t played for a while, we tried to make is as close as possible to a real game.’ Arteta has a fully fit squad to choose from for Wednesday night’s trip to the Etihad to take on his old club Manchester City, with the north London club looking to maintain their strong pre-lockdown form and move up the table.