Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya defended by Mikel Arteta and William Saliba after Lens error
Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya was defended by Mikel Arteta and William Saliba after the Spaniard gave away possession before Lens’ first-half equaliser in their surprise Champions League victory over the north Londoners on Tuesday night.
The Gunners took the lead through Gabriel Jesus but were pegged back by an excellent finish from Adrien Thomasson before Bukayo Saka was forced off with an injury shortly before half-time.
Lens’ first-half equaliser came about after some sloppy play from Raya, whose floated pass out to the wing was picked off by Deiver Machado; the left wing-back fed Wahi, who brilliantly flicked the ball to Thomasson to curl the ball home.
Mikel Arteta defends Raya
Asked about his goalkeeper’s distribution error, Arteta told TNT Sports: ‘But this happens. Mistakes are part of football and they will continue to be there somehow. But I think the difference was made in both boxes today. Especially in the Champions League, you don’t generate 10 clear-cut chances in the Champions League. When you get there you have to put the ball in the back of the net. And we have to defend our box much better than we have done.’
Asked in his post-match press conference if it was disappointing to see a distribution error from Raya given that he was brought in as an upgrade on Ramsdale with his feet, Arteta replied bluntly: ‘No.’
On how frustrating his side’s tendency to commit individual errors has been this season, Arteta continued: ‘Yeah we want to stop everything, obviously, and produce big possibilities for the team to win the game. But they [mistakes] are part of it and errors happen in football constantly, every three or four seconds there is an error whether it is yours or the opponent. We have to adapt to that. I think today we had most control, especially after the first goal, and then when we were dominating we had two big chances to score before them.’
William Saliba defends Raya
Centre-back William Saliba also defended Raya and said the first goal was the collective responsibility of the whole team.
Asked if the first goal was a drawback of the way Arsenal play with Raya between the sticks, the Frenchman said: ‘So yeah, it’s part of the game. We all make the mistake, so we are all together on this. Of course we conceded two goals so it’s not happy.’
Arsenal dominated the contest against Lens but it was the Ligue 1 side who claimed all three points after Elye Wahi swept home following a flowing move to secure a 2-1 victory.
Raya was brought into the team to provide better distribution than previous undisputed number one Aaron Ramsdale but Arteta and Saliba both defended him after his errant pass led to Lens’ first goal.
Arteta played down the error afterwards and says it is a byproduct of trying to play out from the back, while Saliba said the first goal was the collective responsibility of the whole team.
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