Soccer-Defeat by Dyche's Everton leaves Arteta in a muddle as he credits Burnley

Soccer Football - Premier League - Everton v Arsenal - Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain - February 4, 2023 Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks dejected after the match Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff.

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Perhaps it was the shock at a first Premier League defeat since September or the fact that Sean Dyche was in the opposing dugout but Arsenal's manager Mikel Arteta appeared a little confused after his side's 1-0 reverse at Everton on Saturday.

Speaking to radio station talkSPORT after the game Arteta slipped up when analysing the setback.

"Credit to Burnley, they play I think a really good game, and they lifted the crowd and they deserve to be congratulated," Arteta said.

Everton certainly produced a performance that Dyche often used to inspire from his players during his long spell at unfashionable Burnley who he kept in the top flight for six seasons and even qualified for Europe.

But it was still a disappointing loss for Arsenal whose five-point lead at the top now looks vulnerable.

Second-placed Manchester City can cut that gap to two points if they win at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and then visit Arsenal on Wednesday when top spot could be on the line.

Arteta played down any talk of pressure being a factor in the defeat at Everton.

"I don't think so, we've played a lot of games already this season like that," Arteta said.

"You have to do the basics especially in defending. You need to do really well to get your control and the right to play, and for moments we did it, and in others we didn't do it well enough to get more from the game."

Rather than pick faults in his team, however, Arteta said it was time to show them some love.

"I want the team to know how much I love them. I love them much more now than three hours ago, a week ago, month ago, three months ago," he said. "It's very easy to be next to the players when they are winning and performing.

"This is the moment I love my players more, the staff more and now we stick together."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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