Mikel Arteta responds to Theo Walcott saying he ‘felt a lot of fear’ in Arsenal during Southampton draw

Mikel Arteta responds to Theo Walcott saying he 'felt a lot of fear' in Arsenal during Southampton draw
The former Gunner came back to haunt his old club on Wednesday night (Pictures: Reuters / Getty)

Mikel Arteta played down Theo Walcott’s suggestion that he could ‘feel a lot of fear’ in Arsenal’s players during Wednesday’s 1-1 draw between the Gunners and Southampton.

The north Londoners had been on a very poor run of form at the Emirates, losing four Premier League games on the bounce at home, but arrested that slide somewhat with a 1-1 draw.

Walcott opened the scoring for the visitors with a lovely dinked finish, though Arsenal responded at the start of the second half through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who netted his first goal from open play since the opening day of the season.

Theo Walcott Arsenal v Southampton - Premier League
Walcott opened the scoring with a superb finish (Picture: Getty)

But Arsenal had to dig in for the final half-hour after Gabriel was shown a second yellow card with Walcott involved once again, having been tugged down by the centre-back.

The Gunners started the match rather tentatively, with Southampton dominating the early exchanges, and Walcott claimed afterwards that he ‘felt a lot of fear in Arsenal tonight to be honest’ when speaking with Amazon Prime Video after the game.

Walcott also shared a lengthy pitch-side chat with Arteta after both had done their television interviews and, while the Spanish coach respected his old teammate’s opinion, he didn’t necessarily agree with it.

Asked about Walcott’s comments, Arteta responded: ‘I don’t know. I was going to say, I just spoke with him and he never mentioned that to me.

‘He mentioned other things but not that. But, I don’t know… if he said that, it’s his feeling.’

Probed further on how he can get Arsenal playing with confidence – not fear – again, Arteta continued: ‘Just to play with freedom and to enjoy the profession as well.

‘And be accountable when you go out on the pitch, that you do your best and then there are a lot of things that we cannot control.

‘And I’ll try to protect them as much as possible and give them comfort, but you saw there were four or five situations in the first half where we were around the box, inside the six-yard box to finish the action and it should be a goal, and it’s lacking.

‘But in the second half Auba scored and hopefully this unlocks a little bit because individually he’s a player that needs that moment and hopefully things will change.’

MORE : Theo Walcott reveals why he celebrated his goal in Southampton’s draw with Arsenal

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