GUS Poyet was quick to make clear that although he was highly critical of his side following Sunderland’s 4-1 defeat to Arsenal, he did not want to take anything away from the excellence of the title-chasing Gunners.
If Newcastle is the club Poyet loves to face, given his record against the Magpies; Arsenal are probably the side hates to face, having never beaten them in 11 encounters as a player with Chelsea and Spurs.
And on Saturday, his career as a manager against the Gunners did not get off to the best of starts with the home side playing some superlative football.
“First and foremost I would like to say that Arsenal played well,” he nodded. “They started well, they were difficult to play against and they passed the ball quickly.
“The players Arsenal have can beat anyone, any time - so I won’t kill myself over this result! I’m responsible, and the first half I saw a very good Arsenal.
“I’m not naive enough to blame just myself and the team because we are not playing a team that is bottom of the table - we are playing a top team.
“I don’t want to blame ourselves only - I want to give credit to Arsenal. But I need to analyse where we went wrong and the fact is it wasn’t a good day for the way I want to play.
“We played Arsenal. You can come to the Emirates with a great team and lose - people come here and leave having lost 1-0 or 2-0 and are happy with that.
“I am not.
“It’s not the way I see football and I am not going to accept defeat just because the opposition were better than us. When you play against a team like Arsenal, you need to be spot on all the time.
“But we were second best, we were second best in terms of our reaction, our speed, our power and when we had a chance to break, we didn’t take it.”
Having fallen behind to an early goal, Poyet pinpointed the killer second from a disastrous Santiago Vergini back-pass as the moment where the game was really lost for Sunderland.
“We were not playing well but we were still in the game – it’s football – and then Santiago makes the mistake,” said the Uruguayan.
“It was a big moment – a killer – but it was coming and Santiago is not the only one.
“If it was only him at fault I could have taken him off at half-time but the reality is there were a lot of players who just were not performing as I would have expected them to do.
“We had a plan in terms of how we would play, how much possession we had to keep, how we had to react. We had a lot planned but it was not to be. We were not good enough on the day.”