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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear

'Now is a big test for us' : Arteta defiant in the face of Villa's crushing blow to title hopes

Arsenal's first defeat in the league of 2004 was enough to have the doom mongers predicting another April collapse in a forlorn chase of Man City - but Mikel Arteta is not about to see it that way.

The Gunners boss admitted Sunday's 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa was a bitter pill to swallow as it ended their long unbeaten run and took the title race out of their hands.

But the Spaniard believes his side are made of sterner stuff than last year when they folded in the run-in and can react to their first taste of adversity in the league since those back-to-back loses against West Ham and Fulham just after Christmas.

"We knew that this moment could come and now it's about reacting and keep believing and doing what we can do," Arteta said.

"If one result is going to do that [end our hopes], then we are not strong enough, it's very simple. We had one of the best performances that we had in the first half this season, by far, against a really good team and it should have been three or four [goals] or more.

"In the end it didn't happen and second half, momentum shifted and we couldn't control and generate what we did in the first half. We struggled and conceded two very poor goals and we lost the now is the moment to stand up as a leader, as a character to make yourself count. Because when you win and win and win and win and win and win for four months, it's very simple to do it. the moment is now."

Arteta continued: "When you lose, you have to recognise the qualities of the opponent and move forward

We don't have any other solution. When you want to win the championship and win the Champions League, when you have this moment you have to stand up. If not, then it means you don't have the quality that is very, very necessary. Now is a big test for us.

"When you look at the schedule of games that we all have to play every few days, it's crazy, so this can happen to any team. It has happened in the past and we cannot control that at all. We can control how we can be from tomorrow to give ourselves the best chance to go to Munich with big belief to win the game and go to the semi-final.

"We [still] have a beautiful opportunity - an opportunity that hasn't happened at this club for 18 years, to go to a semi-final of the Champions League, so we cannot count in a better moment."

Martin Odegaard was one of the really bright notes on a sad afternoon for the Gunners but he was withdrawn because of an unspecified problem that Arteta would not elaborate on after the game.


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