Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says there is “no excuse” for his side’s defeat by Hibernian on Tuesday. The Gunners were beaten 2-1 by the Scottish Premiership side in their first friendly match of pre-season at Easter Road.
It was not a promising start to preparations for the 2021/22 season for Arteta who was forced to reflect on some glaring errors by his team.
After Eddie Nketiah missed a glorious chance, young goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo gifted Hibs forward Martin Boyle the opening goal with a horrendous miskick from Cedric Soares’ looping backpass.
Steven Bradley went close to making it 2-0, striking the post for Hibs before Thomas Partey hit the woodwork with a 30-yard free-kick.
Arsenal missed more opportunities and were made to pay when Daniel Mackay doubled the hosts’ advantage in the second half from a corner.
Nicholas Pepe won a penalty but saw his spot-kick saved by former Gunners goalkeeper Matt Macey and Emile Smith Rowe’s 82nd-minute goal proved to be a consolation.
Arteta named a strong side which included the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian and saw Pepe, Smith Rowe, Alexandre Lacazette and Hector Bellerin come off the bench.
Speaking to the club website after the game, Arteta was asked whether the lack of preparation explained the poor performance and result.
“It does but there’s no excuse because we want to come here and win the match,” he said. “They worked really hard, the boys worked really hard and you could see that some of them were not in the best condition, but we’re still very early in pre-season.
“It was great to see some of the young lads making their debuts here. We’ll keep working.”
It was an inauspicious start to pre-season for Arsenal, who are attempting to bounce back in the 2021/22 campaign following a disappointing eighth place finish in the Premier League.
With Euro 2020 only recently finished, Arteta was forced to name a mixed team with regular first-team players and youngsters.
But regardless of the line-up, defeat against Hibernian comes as a blow to Arteta in the midst of a crucial period in the club’s history.
“I’m always disappointed when we lose a football match but it is the first game, we played with many kids and we only had four training sessions,” he added.
“We’ve trained really hard and you could see that the players were a little bit leggy.
“I think we conceded the first goal, an accident, and the second goal was clearly offside. We created many, many chances but we didn’t score.
“That’s what pre-season is for, to take the things that we haven’t done well into a training session and then improve.”