With his side losing two games on the bouncer, players keeling over left, right and centre and contract issues to sort against the backdrop of a financial meltdown, you’d forgive Mikel Arteta for breaking down in tears right now.
Somehow, he’s holding things together and he maintains that he still believes in the project he’s outlined to the club.
While it’s pretty obvious some of the changes he wants to implement are going to take some time to bear fruit he also recognises the importance of getting Arsenal winning again in the short term. Failure to do so will result in us missing out on European football and that could exacerbate our problems further.
Asked if he now has a sense of the size of the job he’s facing, the boss put on a stoic face.
“I knew that the challenge was going to be big, but to be fair a lot of things have happened since I joined,” he told press on Tuesday.
“This is what we have, a lot of complications in the last few weeks internally in terms of the injuries as well, but we have to deal with this.
“I think the most difficult thing to buy in football is time. I strongly believe in what we are trying to do, medium-term I know that it is going to work, but right now we need results and we need to perform to win football matches. That is what we have to be focused on.”
He added: “I knew since I joined what I was jumping into. The past few seasons, what happened, I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. So I could’ve sat back and waited to see if the opportunity was still there in the summer, or I could use this time as well to start the process that I want and to start to see where the changes that have to be made are.
“A lot of things have already changed at the club and are in evolution to change, even results and energy was changing just before the coronavirus. I cannot control everything.
“Now I don’t have them in my hands as much as I would like during the day, because they are in and out, in and out and that is obviously not ideal for what we need as a team and as a club. But again, it’s not an excuse.
“We are here to win football games and that’s my responsibility. I take it fully. But we are assessing a lot of things to make a very clear picture of what is going to take us to the next level, because right now is not enough.”
As things stand, Arsenal are tenth in the table, 11 points off the top four. While the gap to fifth is only six points, we’re in desperate need of a winning run or we risk our worst league finish since 1995.
“We will see the reaction now,” responded Arteta when asked if his players can bounce back.
“When you are winning two or three games in a row, it’s easy, when you lose one it becomes a little bit more difficult.
“When you lose two in a row, two very different games that are completely different to asses, I want to see that reaction and how much they want it and how they’re going to react as a team as well as how they’re going to react as individuals and go for it.”
Our recent record at Southampton leaves much to be desired and off the back of a 3-0 win against Norwich at the weekend, Ralf Hassenhutl’s side will be full of confidence. Arteta is expecting a tough match.
“They are a very German side,” said Arteta of Thursday’s opponents. “A manager who has the team into pressing mode, they are really aggressive, really good on the counter-press, really good on the transition, they know what they’re doing and they all seem very committed to him. A very dangerous team.”
He went on to add: “I know it’s a really difficult ground to go to there. I explained what the qualities of Southampton are and I agree with you, they are a really dangerous team.
“They have no fear, they go for it and they really believe in what they do and they compete really, really well. We have to be ready and I’m sure on Thursday we will be ready.”