- Mikel Arteta has expressed disappointment as Arsenal crash out of the FA Cup
- The defending champions were handed a 1-0 defeat by Southampton at the St. Mary’s
- Arteta however defended Nicolas Pepe and Willian as fans have continued to criticise the players
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has defended embattled Nicolas Pepe and Willian after both players failed to inspire Gunners past the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Both players who have been in and out of the squad, were introduced in the FA clash against Southampton at St. Mary’s, but they failed to impress.
Defending champions Arsenal crash out of this season's competition having lost to hard-fighting Southampton in the fourth round of the competition on Saturday afternoon, January 23.
An own goal in the 24th minute by Gabriel was enough to hand the Saints victory, in a tie many have tipped the Gunners to win.
The Saints' press discombobulates the Arsenal defence as the ball’s shuttled out to the right, with Walker-Peters entering the box and firing a shot through Cedric’s legs.
Pepe has struggled since making his £72million move from Lille 18 months ago, while Willian was handed a lucrative three-year deal in the summer but is yet to score for his new employers.
And fans have continued to criticise forward pair for their performances in the loss, but Arteta has leapt to their defence.
He said via SunSport:
“They try to give their best. You could see how hard they are trying, with more or less quality, but the intention is there and the willingness is there.
"I want to think positively and that they are going to reach their level very soon. We're really sad to be out of the competition.
"We had issues in the first half and unforced errors as a result of the high press they do. In the second half, we had two or three big chances."
Jubilation at Emirates Stadium as Arsenal announce signing of sensational star from Premier League club
Meanwhile, Legit.ng earlier reported that Premier League club Arsenal have announced the signing of goalkeeper Mat Ryan on a season-long loan deal from Brighton.
It was gathered that the Gunners had to sell Emiliano Martinez during the summer after club manager Mikel Arteta refused to guarantee him a starting shirt, despite his amazing form last season.
Alex Runarsson was then brought in to replace Martinez, but he also failed to convince the club boss following series of calamitous display, especially during their in last month’s Carabao Cup defeat against Manchester City.
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