Is the honeymoon period over for Mikel Arteta and does he feel a new type of pressure is on him?
That was the question posed to the boss ahead of Sunday’s clash with Leeds United as Arsenal look to move on from a damaging pre-Interlull defeat to Aston Villa; a result that has led to much introspection around the club.
While the boss has spoken repeatedly about his long-term ambitions for the club, he knows full well that time is a currency he can only buy with tangible short-term improvements.
A couple of trophies stand Arteta in good stead as he approaches a year in the job but he knows his players need to be more consistent if they are to qualify for the Champions League come May.
“I always feel the same pressure because the demands and the standards that I set to the football club, the players and myself are to be the best,” he told his pre-game press conference on Friday.
“When we don’t do it and even when we win sometimes, I’m not satisfied. Most of the time I’m not satisfied.
“Honeymoon [period]…it’s a consequence of doing things right, the way we compete with our resources and where we are as a team. I’ve been here 11 months since I was appointed. Actually, how long I’ve been training with these players and competing is a completely different story…how many breaks we’ve had within that.”
While it would be hyperbolic to suggest the Gunners have lurched from the sublime to the ridiculous in recent weeks, sandwiching a long-awaited victory at Manchester United between defeats to Leicester and Villa is a sign of our struggle for consistency in the Premier League.
Despite the manner of the defeat, which clearly angered Arteta, he’s optimistic that he has the right people around him to get his players back on track.
“When I lose a football game, it takes me a week to go through it. So I need another game to go again. When we lose it the way we lost against Villa, it’s even harder because it makes me think about things in the past that I hated and I don’t want to see again.
“There are a lot of things to change and improve, me first and it’s going to be a bumpy road. I said that on the first day. The optimism that I have and the belief I have in where we’re going to get, how lucky I feel with the people I have around me to support what we are trying to do is great.”
The one thing that continues to hamper Arteta is the lack of fans. Earlier in the week, he suggested his Arsenal project is suffering because of a disconnect between players and the fans caused by the ongoing pandemic. It’s a message he was keen to repeat.
“What I’m missing big time, is our fans. Because to build something as I want, with that chemistry, that energy…without fans it’s becoming extremely difficult because they need to see, both fans and players, that they are getting that synergy between them.
“Watching on TV it gives you a completely different taste to watching it live, what is happening and what your team is transmitting. But it’s what we have.
“The challenge since I joined, my first job, has been enormous. What I guarantee, is that I’ll try to do my best, keep doing my best, will stay positive, have the same energy and belief and keep doing it. Honeymoons? I hope we have more honeymoons very soon.”