Mikel Arteta says he’s well aware of what is being written in the press and on social media about Arsenal but he doesn’t read the articles because he’s sure they would drive him mad.
Against the backdrop of Arsenal’s ever-extending winless run, the media has had a field day in recent weeks peppering the back pages with stories of bust-ups, discontent and divisions in the Gunners dressing room.
While Arteta has confronted his players about leaks from within the camp, he maintains that he still has support from those around him and that the atmosphere at London Colney has not soured despite the obvious concern about performances.
Ahead of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final with Manchester City, the boss said: “From within the club everything I am feeling is just support, encouragement, and total confidence that we will get through this together.
“Externally I never read what is happening, I know more or less what is happening but I never read it: in beautiful moments I don’t read it, in difficult moments I don’t read it, I just try to focus on the job and what I have to do.
“But obviously a club of this stature deserves the best and when it is not happening, everyone is going to question what is happening. I am the most responsible one in terms of results, so I have to accept that.”
Pressed on whether he can ignore the negative stories that keep surfacing, he launched an impassioned defence of the work being done to fix things.
“I didn’t say that I don’t pay attention, I said I don’t read. I do pay attention and I have to be aware, and I am aware of what is happening and that s part of my job.
“What I am saying is that I don’t read, if I started to read all the comments whether they are positive or negative, it would drive me mad and my suggestion to every player is exactly the same, all the time it happens with social media as well because you cannot control who is writing or what their intentions are so it is a very dangerous thing to do.
“When you talk about the dressing room and the atmosphere at the club, the atmosphere is good, as good as it can be when we are all hurting because results in the Premier League are hurting us.
“Everyone is worried and everybody is suffering because we want much more. We are working to get much more.
“In the dressing room when you are losing football matches it is difficult because they suffer as well because they care, because they want more, because the confidence level starts to go, but the unity is there.
“Is there 100 per cent unity around the club? It is impossible in any club even when you win because when players are not participating, it is more difficult but when you look at the perspective about how we are losing football matches and how we are where we are, it is pretty incredible.
“Last year we won the game against Everton with a 25 per cent chance of winning, you win 3-2. Last weekend, it was a 67 per cent chance of winning, any Premier League game in history, and a nine per cent chance of losing, and you lose. Three per cent against Burnley and you lose, seven per cent against Spurs, and you lose.
“There is something else apart from that it is not just the performance on the pitch, it is something else that needs to go our way and at the moment it doesn’t. Saying that, it doesn’t care and you lose, and the only thing that anyone cares is that you lose a football match and this what we hear.”
We’re not really in the mood to stick the knife in right now; Arsenal as a whole is a bit too depressing at the moment. However, it’s a tad worrying when statistics (we have no idea of the source of those he cites) are used to mount a defence but an unquantifiable thing like ‘luck’ – which is what we assume he means by ‘something else that needs to go our way’ – is pinpointed as the solution.