Arsenal boss Unai Emery felt Nicolas Pepe’s first-half miss proved decisive in his side’s 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United.
Pepe, a £72million summer signing from Lille, contrived to fire off target when placed in front of goal from Sead Kolasinac’s pin-point cross with the score at 0-0.
The Blades took full advantage, with Lys Mousset turning the ball home in the 30th minute following a corner for what proved to be the winning goal.
“That was the key I think because if that (Pepe’s chance) goes in – they are the team in the Premier League who have conceded least goals with Liverpool, seven only,” said Emery.
“And if they score the first goal then defensively they are very strong and they defended very well in the second half.
“It’s not easy to create the chances, but I think we controlled the ball more in the (better) positions.
“I think we deserved more. I don’t think we deserved to lose the match, but I appreciate (Sheffield United’s) work and I appreciate they are here with their supporters.”
Emery bemoaned referee Mike Dean’s decision not to award his side an early penalty when John Egan pulled Sokratis back by his shirt as the hosts defended a corner.
“It was very clearly a penalty,” Emery said. “I think it was very clear. Then the first chance for us, from Pepe.”
Arsenal missed the chance to move back up to third in the table and saw their eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions halted.
“We’re very disappointed with that result,” Emery added. “We created the best chances, but we didn’t achieve everything to win that match.
“We conceded more corners than we wanted and from one corner they scored from it.”
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder said his side had to be close to their best to get the better of the Gunners.
“It’s been a great night for us,” Wilder said. “It’s what we’re in the division for, days and nights like this.
“Everton away and Arsenal at home. But we needed to produce a big performance because we were playing a team who are a historic football club.
“I said all along they’re a team expected to go really well this year, top four and higher.
“So we had to do a lot of things right tonight and we did and we got our rewards.”
The Blades secured their third win since winning promotion back to the top flight last season, which lifted them up to ninth in the table.
“One thing that won’t happen, the players won’t get carried away, you know that,” Wilder added.
“They’ll get brought back down to earth straight away, but they’ll do that themselves, I won’t need to say anything to them.”
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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino accepts his position will come under increasing pressure if results do not improve.
Spurs have endured a terrible start to the season, winning just three times in 12 games, which has seen Pochettino face scrutiny for the first time in five and a half years at the club.
The Argentinian says that he is not affected by speculation, and pointed to his lack of grey hairs as evidence, but knows the pressure on him will only get worse if his side cannot turn things around.
“The rumours happen in any club when you don’t win,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they are true and you need to care or pay attention about what has happened.
“But I understand it’s the business. I am 47 – look, why do you think that I don’t have white hair?
“Because I don’t pay attention to any of this. I only pay attention to what we need to do to improve our performance.
“And if we don’t improve our performance, what is going to be the result?
“Always the same in football. Yes, you are thinking the same as me.”
As well as the 7-2 humiliation to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Spurs caved to a 3-0 defeat at Brighton and needed a late leveller to draw with winless Watford at the weekend.
Pochettino said: “We are in a period where we are fragile like any team. In five years the team did a lot of good things, we put standards so high.
“Nearly all the players – 99 per cent of them – have enjoyed a good period at the club in the five and a half years we have been here. It had always been very positive so this, what is happening now, is a very new thing for us.
“But if you look at the history of Tottenham, now it looks normal for Tottenham to be in the Champions League but five years ago it wasn’t normal. We need to face a different period but the belief is there and the faith.
“It’s normal to have questions like, we train too much, we are tired, all the rumours that can appear. Our answer is to only laugh.”
Captain Harry Kane, sat next to his manager as he faced the media ahead of a crunch Champions League game with Red Star Belgrade, was asked to comment on a report that the players felt Pochettino’s training sessions were too demanding.
Kane had a chuckle with his boss and said: “There’s going to be speculation when things aren’t going well, when you’re not winning games, people will look from the outside for excuses.
“From our point of view we work hard every day. We have worked hard since the manager came here to improve as players and as a team, that hasn’t changed.
“We need to carry on doing what we have always done and that is keep working as hard as possible.
Kane did at least admit that this was the toughest period of his time in the Spurs team, having previously over-achieved.
“I’d say so. When you look at the results it’s not been easy,” he said. “Of course we all want to be winning games.
“It’s not going to be a straight path to success. There’s going to be bumps along the way. At the moment we’re at one and we’ve got to overcome that.”
Spurs’ hopes of reaching the knockout stages will be all but over if they lose to the Serbian champions.
They are currently on one point after two games and would fall five behind Red Star if they were to be beaten.
They should have Christian Eriksen back from a dead leg, though, while Pochettino also teased that one of Giovani Lo Celso or Ryan Sessegnon – almost certainly the former – will be involved after a lengthy injury lay-off.
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Joao Cancelo believes he is learning from the best manager in the game at Manchester City in Pep Guardiola.
Cancelo, a £60 million summer signing from Juventus, has started City’s last two matches after taking time to get up to speed with Guardiola’s demands.
Cancelo, speaking at a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Atalanta, said: “When I came here I came here to learn. Pep is the best manager in today’s football.
“It’s true it took me time but it is important the club wins. When I finally had an opportunity to play I did well and the team won.”
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