Mikel Arteta admitted Arsenal were unrecognisable from the side that has made plenty of progress in his first year in charge as Aston Villa stormed to a comprehensive 3-0 win at the Emirates on Sunday.
Bukayo Saka’s own goal and a double from Ollie Watkins took Villa up to sixth, just three points off the top of the table with a game in hand.
Arsenal had beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in 14 years last weekend in what appeared to be the latest sign the Gunners are heading in the right direction under Arteta.
But the Spaniard suffered the joint heaviest defeat of his managerial career in a chastening evening for the hosts, who were second best from start to finish.
A second consecutive home defeat for Arsenal sees them slip to 11th, four points off their major target for the season of a top-four finish.
“We performed below our standards and I have to say it’s the first time I’ve seen us play and we weren’t a team,” said Arteta.
“We lost all the races, the duels and we were sloppy on the ball.
“It is a frustration. It takes a lot to build momentum, to build a way of being, living and performing and when something like that comes up it’s a hard one to take.”
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Villa thought they had taken the lead inside the first minute when John McGinn rifled into the roof of the net from Jack Grealish’s pass.
However, after a VAR review lasting over four minutes, the goal was ruled out for Ross Barkley in an offside position standing in front of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno being ruled to be interfering with play.