Arsenal players 'need to learn humility', says Maupay after late winner

The Brighton matchwinner Neal Maupay said Arsenal’s players “got what they deserved” after striking late in a match whose headlines he had already been destined to dominate.

Maupay had been at the heart of a troubling incident in the first half when his late challenge on Bernd Leno led to the Arsenal goalkeeper’s departure with what seemed a serious knee injury. He expressed his contrition at half-time, but was targeted by angry opponents after the game had finished and said the result had been punishment for their behaviour throughout.

“Some of Arsenal’s players need to learn humility, maybe sometimes,” Maupay told BT Sport. “They have been talking a lot first half, second half when they were 1-0 up. They got what they deserved.”

He emphasised that he had not meant to hurt Leno with the challenge, which looked overzealous rather than malicious. “I just went for the ball, I am that type of player. I don’t want to stop until the referee blows the whistle. I never meant the injury. I apologised at half-time to their staff and their manager. [Mikel Arteta] told me it is football, he saw the video and he knows I did not mean to hurt him. I wish him a speedy recovery.”

Arteta would not be drawn into a war of words with Maupay, merely responding that he could “say whatever he wants, I know my players”. But he agreed there had been no intention to cause injury to Leno, whose outlook does not look promising. “I believe no player has the intention to hurt anybody and I believe in this case exactly the same,” he said. “It was unfortunate but the injury does not look good. We have to assess him tomorrow to know exactly what happened. I think he had a hyperextension of the knee and we have to assess the damage.”

Mikel Arteta during Arsenal's defeat at Brighton

Mikel Arteta felt his side ‘lost duels’ to allow Brighton back into the game. Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

It was Arsenal’s second defeat in 72 hours and their bid to secure European football next season looks increasingly fanciful. They had looked good for what, at that stage, would have been a deserved win when Nicolas Pépé struck and Arteta was left to bemoan his side’s inability to apply themselves for the entirety of a top-flight game.

“I think we did a lot of things to win the game comfortably, but you have to compete in the Premier League,” he said. “In the first goal we conceded we lost the duels. It’s all our fault. It’s about how you compete in a match, it’s for 100 minutes. It’s not the first time it happened and if you want to be consistent at this level it’s non-negotiable.”

Graham Potter, who saw Brighton win for the first time in 2020 and move five points clear of the relegation zone, lauded his players’ recovery. “It was massive for us,” he said. “With no supporters you’ve got to find answers from within so I’m very proud of the players.”