Mikel Arteta has pointed to the absence of his senior players after the Gunners were on the receiving end of a sobering defeat in their Premier League opener at Brentford. The Spaniard was forced to name a young side, handing academy prospect Folarin Balogun a rare start in attack with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both missing through illness.
Arsenal were bullied at times by the Bees, who were buzzing on their top-flight return following last season’s Championship play-off success.
Thomas Frank’s side laid down the law that they will not change their approach and strategy for anyone as Arsenal fell victims to the spirit inside the Brentford Community Stadium.
Serge Canos struck a brilliant opener before
Christian Norgaard punished from a long throw-in to head in a second.
It was the lack of leadership for that goal in particular that hammered home the lack of authority in the Arsenal side for Arteta.
“I’m disappointed. We started the season against a good opponent,” he told BBC Sport.
“I don’t think we deserved anything different. They scored from a long throw-in and we didn’t have enough presence in the box.
“The first goal gave them some hope. We wanted to play better in the second half but we need many more shots on target, then we conceded on a set-piece.
“A lot of young boys were doing everything they can. For some of them it was the first experience in the league – that says a lot.”
Arteta was perhaps pointing towards the absence of his two senior strikers in particular and he was unable to confirm whether they will be fit to face Chelsea next week.
“I can’t change that. We knew that before the game. I don’t know [if they’ll be available for the next game],” he added.
“What I can control and help, I’ll put all my enthusiasm and work into that.”