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RAGING Declan Rice blasted Arsenal for “letting ourselves and our fans down” in their Craven Cottage collapse.

Boss Mikel Arteta labelled the dismal defeat to Fulham their “worst of the season” and demanded his struggling stars turn things around to avoid more Premier League title heartbreak.

Arsenal sub Gabriel Jesus and Rice argued at a crucial stage.
The Gunners have lost three of their last five Prem games — picking up just four points from a possible 15.

Having also been defeated by West Ham on Thursday, Rice fumed: “It is not good enough. The standards set over the course of the season have not been met in the last two games.

“We let the fans down and we let ourselves down. We need to take more control.

“We need to have more self-belief, more desire, the mentality needs to be better.

“That’s where we need to demand more from each other. We are fighting up the top end of the table and the goals that we have conceded, it cannot happen.

“It is about knowing you’re going to fight for every ball. We need to push each other more when times get tough.

“In this league there is no room to mess up. There are so many good teams around you and obviously we want to be pushing up the top end of the table.”

Fulham hit back with goals from Raul Jimenez and Bobby De Cordova-Reid after Bukayo Saka’s early opener.

A disappointed Arteta said: “We have to look at ourselves in the mirror because today’s performance is the worst we have played all season that’s for sure.

“If we play like we played in the other 19 games we will be up there [in the league at the end of the season]. If we play like today we will be nowhere near.

“It was a really difficult day to swallow. It was painful and sad. We were not good enough.

“We lost three days ago when we deserved to win, but today we were nowhere near that level.

“We conceded two very similar goals, giving the ball away. Defensively we were second best.

“We had a great performance against Liverpool, against West Ham, this is the one you have to isolate as it is our worst performance of the season.”

“We didn’t do enough with possession — not enough purpose, speed or threat. We were sloppy with the ball. It wasn’t good enough.

“We didn’t deserve to win. When you have opportunities to go top of league on December 31 and now end up with really bad feeling that is football.”

Arsenal — who were top at Christmas but are now fourth in the table — face Liverpool in the FA Cup third round on Sunday, but do not play again in the Prem until January 20 at home to Crystal Palace.

With last season’s dramatic title collapse firmly in the memory, Arteta said: “We certainly need that reset after this because that’s going to be in our tummy for a few days. What happened today cannot happen again.

“If you do that we will never have the chance to be where we want to be.

”It could have been a beautiful day to end the year, that’s for sure. But these are the margins.”

Rice urged Arsenal’s players to ‘take more control’ of games.

However, Rice does not believe this is the time to lose faith, explaining: “There has been a blip in the road. But there is no room to panic and there are still so many games to go.

“We need to stay positive. It is not the time to be negative.

“We have a great manager, great set of players. We will keep going. I wouldn’t put it down to tiredness. Everyone is fit.

“We got so close last year. This year, we want to win it.”

The January window could be a chance for Arteta to freshen up his squad with some new faces, but the Spaniard said: “We need to improve.

“In order to do that we need to do it with the players that after 20 league games had the chance to be the best in the league.

“They are really good and we’re going to continue to work with them.

“We have to do what we did in the previous 19 games — with the same players.”

Fulham ended a 26-game run of failing to win in the Prem after going behind.

It was also the Cottagers’ first win in four league outings.

Manager Marco Silva said: “We were the best side on the pitch. After a few bad results, where we weren’t at our levels, the way we reacted was very good.

“We have had problems when we have been behind, not being able to turn it around. But it showed we are capable.”

 

 

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