Paul Scholes lay the blame for Arsenal’s defeat against Manchester United at the feet of Mikel Arteta and his ‘shocking’ substitutions.
The Gunners arrived at Old Trafford in confident mood having enjoyed a flawless start to the new season, winning five games in succession and playing the best football of Arteta’s reign.
Despite dominating large periods of the game, Arsenal trailed 2-1 with 24 minutes remaining after Marcus Rashford had restored United’s lead shortly after Bukayo Saka’s deserved equaliser.
Rather than consolidate, Arteta went for broke and made a risky treble substitution which saw Martin Odegaard, Sambi Lokonga and Oleksandr Zinchenko withdrawn.
And within seconds of Fabio Vieira, Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah entering the fray, Rashford effectively put the contest to bed with another breakaway goal.
‘I thought his subs were shocking,’ said Scholes afterwards. ‘I thought they were terrible. I thought they ruined the game for him.
‘I thought they were going great he didn’t need to change anything. Jesus, they all looked dangerous, Martinelli looked dangerous, I thought Saka looked dangerous. The substitutions seemed to stop the momentum of the game really.’
Rather than accept his changes contributed to a first defeat of the season, Arteta instead criticised the lack of courage and discipline exhibted by his own players.
He said: ‘We lacked discipline and we conceded the first goal when it was an action with Bruno and three vs three in the backline and we don’t follow our principles and we concede the goal, which was two against one.
‘After that it was all us, chance after chance, dominating the game and imposing ourselves in the way that we want to play. I said at half-time to the boys: ‘the game is there for the taking’.
‘We play with even more courage and we’re going to win the game.’ We went to 1-1 and we should have been 2-1 or 3-1, and in the best moment again we gave them all away in a dangerous area and on top of that we stepped in when we can never do that again.
‘We suffered the goal and it’s a big lesson.
‘If you want to win here you have to do everything so right and especially if you don’t do it there, then in the opponent’s goal with the amount of chances that we created we needed to score more goals.’
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