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Mikel Arteta leaps to Kai Havertz’s defence after Arsenal draw with Fulham

Mikel Arteta leaps to Kai Havertz’s defence after Arsenal draw with Fulham

Mikel Arteta has defended Kai Havertz despite taking him off in the 55th minute during Arsenal’s disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Fulham.

The 24-year-old missed his side’s best first half chance and struggled alongside his fellow attackers with Fulham 1-0 up at half-time.

There were audible jeers towards the Germany international inside the Emirates Stadium on just his fourth appearance since his £65million move from Chelsea.

Speaking after a chaotic second half, Arteta explained why his attacking midfielder hasn’t been at his best. He said: “I saw an action when he played backwards and he could have turned.

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“That’s more I think the demands of everybody to play forward and to impact the game in the final third because we had the urgency to win.

“I think he’s done already really good things. Today it was tough in certain moments. He got in great areas and the ball didn’t arrive.

“In a lot of situations, he should have scored a lot of goals already this season. That’s the thing that is missing there.”

Fabio Vieira hauled Arsenal back into the game after replacing Havertz early in the second half. He won a penalty for Bukayo Saka to equalise and then crossed the ball in for Eddie Nketiah’s strike just two minutes later.

Arteta praised Vieira for his impact after he almost won the game with a late edge of the box shot which was well saved by Bernd Leno, adding: “I’m really happy with the impact of the subs and the way they came in.

“With Fabio, I'm delighted for him because he hasn’t played any minutes this season. To see a player that comes with that determination and the positivity to impact the team that he had it’s not difficult to see. I’m really happy for him.”

Vieira played a key role in helping Arsenal take the lead (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Vieira played a key role in helping Arsenal take the lead (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Joao Palhinha equalised from a corner in the 87th minute despite Fulham going down to 10 men after a second yellow card from Calvin Bassey.

Arteta was defiant about his team’s performance, insisting it was much better than Arsenal’s early season win against Fulham last year. He explained: “If I compare the game we played against Fulham this season and last season, we were 10 times better this season. At least 10.

“We made the most difficult thing, go 2-1 up. Then you have to defend the box with your life, you cannot concede a goal after everything we did. We should have scored five, six, seven, I don’t know [how many].

“Errors are part of football, it’s where you make them and how the opponent takes them that makes the difference.

“We had a big one against Fulham last year where we just gave a goal to Mitrovic as well. It’s part of football.”