Mikel Arteta leapt to the defence of Bernd Leno following his error in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Rapid Vienna.

The Gunners got their Europa League campaign off to a winning start thanks to goals from David Luiz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Thursday evening.

However, they had to do it the hard way after Leno gifted Rapid Vienna a 51st-minute lead when his pass was cut out by Ercan Kara as Taxiarchis Fountas picked up the loose ball to punish the mistake.

The goalkeeper was almost at fault for another goal when his clearance cannoned off Luiz and into the path of Fountas, whose long-range effort was off target.

Arteta insists Arsenal will continue to play out from the back, despite Leno’s struggles in Austria.

He said: “We made it a little bit harder with some decisions we made and the goal we conceded, which if anything is obviously my fault because I demand that we do those things.

“It is a part of our game model. We need to understand when we can do it and when we should kick the ball to the stand.

“He [Leno] has the courage to do it, we have been very successful at doing it as well with the amount of goals we have scored even in important games.

Arteta strongly defended Leno in his post-match press conference
Arteta strongly defended Leno in his post-match press conference

“They will understand better and better the type of balls that we have to play in those areas and in relation to where the pressure is coming and the type of distances you can manage from the opponent.

“It is something we have to keep working on because if we want to play the way I want to, it is necessary that the goalkeeper is involved in our build-up play.”

Thomas Partey, who joined Arsenal in a £45million deal from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day, made his full debut against Rapid Vienna.

Arteta was pleased with the performance of his new signing, who made his Gunners bow as an 83rd-minute substitute in last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Man City.

“To be fair he looked really solid, really comfortable,” the Spaniard added.

Partey played the full 90 minutes for Arsenal
Partey played the full 90 minutes for Arsenal

“I think he held the midfield by himself in the second-half as well when we were a little bit more open and we started to take more chances, attacking certain spaces with some players.

“But I think he was fantastic tonight and there is much more to come from him obviously.

“Obviously we know that with the price that we paid for him and the profile that he has, he is going to have a lot of people looking at him in every single game.

“But it’s about the structure we have as a team, the flow, the unity and the cohesion that we need in our team and he is one piece of that. Hopefully he is a big piece.”

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