LIVERPOOL, England: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had no simple answer when asked to explain how his side could be so good at mighty Liverpool on Thursday after being so bad on Sunday against second tier opponents.
Bundled out of the FA Cup by Championship side Nottingham Forest five days ago, the Gunners held on for a 0-0 draw at Anfield with 10 men and no recognised midfielders in their League Cup semi-final first leg.
“Really difficult to explain,” the Spaniard told Sky Sports.
“You see the performance we had against Manchester City where we probably deserved much more than we got in the game, but again we played with 10 men.
“Then we went to play Forest away and it was a completely different one. But today we got the level back and we did what we had to do.
“It is an extremely young team and sometimes that inconsistency is going to happen.”
Arsenal’s shock 1-0 defeat by Forest really hurt, with the Gunners failing to muster a shot on target and seemingly lacking in drive.
Against champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium early in the Premier League season, they went down 5-0 after midfielder Granit Xhaka was sent off for a two-footed lunge in the 35th minute.
Xhaka offended even earlier on Thursday, collecting a straight red for a high challenge in the 24th but his team mates’ reaction was very different.
“I think they showed great fight, determination, attitude, brotherhood,” said Arteta. “You could see the emotion they were playing with. They never gave up.
“I said to them before the game, when you want to come here you have to have a certain attitude to play in this ground. In difficult moments you have to act, you cannot be reacting because then it becomes really complicated.
“The boys did that extremely well. We played the game that we had to play, which is not our game.”
The next match for the Gunners is Sunday’s North London derby at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League and Arteta looked forward to it, even if his players will need time to recover from Thursday’s exploits.
“The extra motivation to play a derby brings the energy when you don’t have it,” Arteta said.