Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta refused to blame goalkeeper Alex Runarsson for his costly mistake in a 4-1 loss to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
The Icelandic keeper came into the Gunners line-up in place of Bernd Leno, who is the regular in between the sticks for Arsenal.
He could have done better for Gabriel Jesus’ opener but was definitely at fault as he let Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick – City’s second goal of the night – through his gloves and into the net.
“He [Runarsson] hasn’t played a lot of games for us,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“He’s just adapting to the league, and that’s it. We all make mistakes and we have to support him.”
When asked if he had considered starting Leno over Runarsson, Arteta added: “Yes. But as well we know Bernd has played a lot of minutes and needed some rest as well.
“We wanted to give opportunities to other players and Alex has done well in the other games. These things happen in football.”
Arteta defended his team selection in general following a tough period of games and a tricky festive fixture list ahead.
“It was a combination of the amount of games that some of them have played, some players could not be involved, and others deserved to play,” Arteta added.
“It is a painful moment again, we started the game and conceded a soft goal really early. After that in this moment, to get over that is difficult.”
The Spaniard also played down fears of another long-term injury to Martinelli and praised the teenager’s impact on his first start since March.
“Gabi has a unique energy and a way to transmit his passion for the game,” Arteta continued.
“I think he plays the game in a different way to any other player so it is hard to compare him.
“But it is great to have him back, to bring that spirit, that fight and after such a long time to play against this opponent, the way he did it I think in the first half, it is something to be really proud of.”
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