Mikel Arteta admits he’s angry and frustrated by Arsenal’s current malaise but reiterated that the project he took on was always going to take time to implement.
After September’s FA Cup success, hopes were high that the Gunners could close the gap on the top sides in the league. Instead, a wretched run of form, including four consecutive home defeats, has led to much soul searching in the dressing room.
On Wednesday we face Southampton at the Emirates, a side well-versed in difficult spells. Just over a year ago, they were hammered 9-0 at home by Leicester leaving manager Ralph Hassenhutl’s job in the balance. After steadying the ship, the Saints have been flying-high under the Austrian this season.
At a time when questions are being asked of Arteta’s ability to get Arsenal back on track, is the patience shown by Southampton an example to follow.
In his pre-game press conference, Arteta said: “It does take time but as well, but as well it is important to see the history of the club, where they have been and the issues that they have been through.
“I don’t like to compare it with any other club because I don’t know what happened here. We all knew when I took the job here that it wasn’t a quick fix at all, there were too many things that needed to be resolved, too many big decisions to make, a lot of changes that are happening and this takes time.
“Are we pleased with the results? Absolutely not, I am the first one who is angry and frustrated because I think as well that we deserve much more than we have at the moment but it is our own fault and we need to look to the future, and know as well that the present is also really, really important at the moment.”
He went on to add: “Before you look to the future, you have to look to the past and the things that have happened, how you’re going to move forward, the things that are working, that things that have to be changed.
“We all knew the bumps were coming. I think I said many times in this room, it’s how we deal with them, how strong we are to get through them and sometimes when things get ugly it’s necessary to get brighter and better. Nobody likes to be in the situation that we’re in in the Premier League and it’s not good enough and it’s not acceptable. It’s not a quick fix but that does not mean that we’re accepting the situation, it’s the contrary.”
After Sunday’s defeat to Burnley, a story circulated that Arteta had fallen out with David Luiz – a rumour quickly dismissed by both the club and the player – and that other members of the dressing room were feeling disheartened by the current atmosphere.
Arteta, who has since been backed by Technical Director Edu and former boss Pep Guardiola, was asked whether he feels the players are united behind him.
“My feeling is yes, but this is a question for them,” he said. “When I see the reaction and the way they try, there is not one but that worries me that they are not trying their best, that is for sure.
“In terms of Edu and Pep, they obviously showed their appreciation because in good moments it is very easy, in difficult moments when you have people like them showing there support – and probably two people who know very, very well what I have been through here – it is very much appreciated.”