Mikel Arteta says his players need to take responsibility for their performances but he doesn’t want them to feel guilty because that will only turn into fear on the pitch. 

As was the case after Saturday’s defeat to Liverpool, the boss hasn’t been afraid to criticise his squad when they’ve played badly but he also knows he treads a fine line between getting his message across and further damaging fragile confidence. 

While supporters have been left dejected and pundits have stuck the knife, the Spaniard made clear he wouldn’t rise to the bait and instead laid the gauntlet down to his players to let their feet do the talking on the pitch. 

“It’s just about how we take the criticism,” said Arteta when asked if his players hurt after defeats. 

“For me, it’s not good to get the criticism and to feel guilty because that guilt turns into fear. It’s about feeling responsible. That is for me the key word. 

“We have to feel responsible for what we do every day, for what we do on the pitch for the club we represent and then act. Not too much talking, it’s time for acting.

“It’s the only way we can do it. At the end of the day it’s about winning football matches, being competitive in every competition that we’re involved in and winning trophies.”

Ex-Gunner Emmanuel Petit, who helped the club to a Double in 1998 before swanning off to Barcelona, was particularly stinging in his assessment of the current squad. 

This week, he said:  “When I look at the older players in Arsenal’s team, it’s like they think it’s a retreat football club, somewhere you just go for a vacation.”

He added: “If you took away the name ‘Arsenal’ and looked at that group of players… average. At the end of the season, if I’m Arsenal, if I’m Arteta, if I’m on the board, to be honest with you, I think my main concern is getting half of the dressing room out. Honestly.”

Asked what he made of the Frenchman’s take, Arteta responded: “I don’t know what he said but he knows the club really well, he was here during the most successful years. 

“He’s got that opinion. I’m here to change that opinion. I’m here to give an evaluation of what I see every day and where we are. I know where we are and where we want to go. We have to respect that. 

Arteta also made clear that just because his players don’t always scream and shout on the pitch, it doesn’t mean they lack character. That said, he promised to weed out anyone who might not care enough. 

“Showing [passion] goes with the character. There are people who are much more introvert or extrovert, that show emotion with their body language more than others, it doesn’t mean they don’t hurt. 

“For sure, players that don’t have that emotion, that passion, that commitment, they won’t be at this football club.” 

Ahead of tomorrow’s must-win Europa League quarter-final with Slavia Prague, Arteta also outlined how he’ll mentally prepare players who’ve shown signs of burnout. 

“It’s just getting that inner energy and passion because you’ve got the opportunity to win something,” he said. 

“That energy when you use it in the right way is a big lift. Hopefully, we can transmit that to the players so they are in that mode when they step onto the pitch.”

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Naked Cygan

To think we used to always be in the top 4 with the likes of Senderos, Denlison, Almunia, Djourou, Gervinio,Santos, and Bendtner. Mind blowing!! Then we go from Wenger, to Emery, now Arteta. Don’t be shocked if Piers Morgan is the next manager.

Andy

that was before man city, liverpool, leicester and tottenham made huge improvements. the club has been drifting for quite some time now. they were all pretty much squad players too barring a short period in the sun for denilson and bendtner.

ASH

There was always money Bro.
Leeds Utd spent a lot, Aston Villa and Martin O’Neill, Man City and Erikksen, Liverpool and Rafa.

Take a look at our squad, it should competing for top 4 and achieving Europa.

This team full of Ozils – Auba, Laca, Willian, Pepe, Ceballos – is bottom half, and can crash to relegation.

CLEGooner

Refresh my memory, which Middle Eastern country owned Leeds?

Crash Fistfight

Not to mention Wolves, Everton and Aston Villa now being financially doped (just because they don’t spend as much as PSG and Man City doesn’t mean they’re spending money they actually make, unless you think stuff like Aston Villa’s owner “buying” their stadium isn’t BS to get around FFP).

Disarmed Gunner

Not only that but we played damn good football back then. Like real good stuff. Generation have idea. Can’t appreciate the taste of a steak if all you’ve grown up eating is cheeseburgers. Based on our current worsening results it is natural to assume next season is a relegation dogfight next year if we keep Arteta.

Vonnie

We also played some seriously bad football back then, so it wasn’t all youtube highlights. Some perspective is needed. We played some absolute stinkers under Wenger and we’ve had some glimpses of the good stuff that Mikel wants to play. We need a strong end to the season and the summer transfer window will be interesting.

Disarmed Gunner

Do me a favour. Even Arteta’s greatest performances (and I use that term loosely) couldn’t even earn him a seat at the footballing table with Wenger. I remember the odd stinker (although it’s a faint memory as I’m so overwhelmed with the STENCH under Arteta ) but I also remember football played at its purist and most dynamic form. There was a time people spoke of attractive football and only mentioned Arsenal and Barcelona. Those days are long dead now. And no, they weren’t YouTube highlights. I remember them just fine as I was actually physically at most of them.… Read more »

Heavenly Chapecoense

Other than games against Man U, pundits always say of other teams: “Can’t win against Arsenal, won’t have any of the ball” and after games “That’s the treatment Arsenal gives to teams like Aston Villa, 4-1”.

NorthernGooner

Trouble is Vonnie, the stinkers under Wenger were the (rare) exception….while the “good stuff that Mikel wants to play” is even a rarer exception.

Heavenly Chapecoense

No stinkers ever played by Barcelona, Real and Bayern ?

Disarmed Gunner

The footballing deflecting equivalent of “Oh, look behind you!” *Runs away

JB1

You guys are all a funny bunch… Were any of you complaining on here when we won the FA Cup Final last year… ?? just curious. We are where we are. It is what it is. We have a ton of deadwood players and bad recruitment from previous managers/board members. It is what it is. Not Mik’s fault, and as a new manager he’s doing his best. Who else is realistically gonna come in and sort out the current squad mess that is Arsenal FC ?? On this budget. Seriously… there isn’t anyone. Slowly, steadily he’ll right the ship. Klopp… Read more »

Badaab

management and ownership should take responsibility for poor tactics on the pitch and in the transfer market as well.

Johnny 4 Hats

I really hated that Neville clip I saw. It was totally subjective. He implied things about our players that there is little to no evidence for. He basically suggested a player vs manager environment which, from listening to the players talk, is totally unfounded.

But hey, it made a great headline.

Gus Caesar

The trouble is there is also no evidence that things are actually rosy between the players and manager. You can’t rely on the choreographed interviews wheeled out for the club’s Pravda as a measurement. You only have to see the captain repeatedly late to see that the environment is far from perfect. What we do have evidence of is what’s on the pitch and I don’t think Neville’s criticism of the effort levels on Saturday were at all unfair. People talk of Xhaka as the spiritual captain of the side and I think it was noticeable that the effort was… Read more »

Johnny 4 Hats

There’s also no implicit evidence that the City players like Pep. We just assume they do because he wins things. I know it was a horse shit performance but that can exist in a vacuum. We don’t even know if Arteta instructed them to stand off and keep their energy levels up.

If Neville understood any of these factors then maybe he would have done a little better over in Valencia.

Gus Caesar

I don’t think it even matters whether players like a manager or not. I don’t think many of GG’s players liked him. What’s important is whether the players are performing consistently and winning games. What was obvious on Saturday, and on many other occasions this season, is that the workrate of the players was off compared to other games. Now, maybe Arteta did tell the players not to press, maybe the players were even confused by their instructions, but I don’t think you need to be a genius to know that there is no way that Arteta would’ve instructed the… Read more »

Spanish Gooner

Lots of City players don’t like Pep (It was hinted at in the All or Nothing documentary) but with his pedigree you respect his opinion and do as he says. Arteta never even got an international cap, so he doesn’t quite command the same authority

Arsenalnut

How many caps has Klopp? Is he respected? Was he respected when he began managing?

When your managerial debut was that Barca squad you did not hit a triple, you were born on third base.

JeremyDG

Completely agree. The players won’t win this battle though. Whether we like it or not, the board have invested in MA and he’s getting at least one more season (hopefully under more normal circumstance). If there is a battle of wills, only one man is winning.

Gus Caesar

I’m on the fence on Arteta whether he will win the battle. I’d deeply love him to survive and win it, but it rarely happens that a club is willing to give up £££ of talent on the cheap to allow one manager to have his way. The hope here is that Auba, Laca, Luiz etc are all likely to leave in the coming 1-2 years anyway, plus many others will too. Ozil and other ‘influences’ have also already gone. But will it all happen quickly enough for Arteta to turn it around and will the club have the nerve… Read more »

Heavenly Chapecoense

Auba is gifted with scoring goals if in good form but the absolute dedication for football, Henry, Ronaldo, Drogba have shown, he doesn’t have it. Auba can live with defeat “it is part of football and we’re all humans”. The others can’t.

Gus Caesar

I think you’re spot on. I’ve often wondered why Auba wasn’t signed by any of the other big clubs. It always struck me that he was an obvious fit for what we needed, the pacey striker who would run channels that Giroud never could. But, the more i’ve seen him at Arsenal, the more it’s become obvious to me that his professionalism and attitude aren’t world class. I’m not saying he’s Bendtner, but he’s clearly a handful and not consistently focused and committed like the true greats.

Aussie Gooner

The idea that our front three are a Mafia is ludicrous, Gary Neville appears to pull all his Arsenal insights out of his Arsenal. In Aubameyang we have one of the best strikers in Europe and yet he plays as a left-wingback, I am sure he really knows why, but he trusts in Arteta. Were he really part of the Mafia he would ignore those instructions and play up front regardless. Same as Pepe, a dangerous player in the right system and the right team, instead being asked to do things he knows he isn’t suited to. Were he Mafia… Read more »

Someone said it perfectly. Gary Neville is a passion merchant. He’s just there to sell emotional takes to the Sky Sports viewers.

Let’s not forget that this is the man that almost got a top 4 Valencia team relegated before he was sacked. He was a terrible tactician and only got the job because he has business connections with their owner. Like his brother who mismanaged the England women’s team, he’s only where he his because of who he knows.

I’d say Petit makes a much better analysis of the current Arsenal team. Can’t take Neville seriously to be honest.

Johnny 4 Hats

Neville should stick to tactical analysis and leave the pop psychology to idiots on Twitter.

TeeCee

You amaze me. Gary Neville doesn’t have a Twitter account???

Gus Caesar

Auba didn’t play as a left wing-back. He played on the left of a 5 across the middle, a position he’s played in more often in his career than any other. Regarless, if he’s asked to play at right-back then it’s still his job to give his all. He was lazy on Saturday, he looked like a spoilt brat who wasn’t in the mood. I’m not sure what you think the “right team” is for Pepe? Back in the middle of Ligue 1 presumably? If Pepe wants to be part of a collective team, a team which works together, presses… Read more »

karl

Every time Pepe starts to show form, he is out of the team until his confidence and form are gone. If he starts playing well on the left, Mikel moves him back to the right.

Gus Caesar

You don’t just get picked on the basis of your last game though and Arsenal aren’t run purely for the benefit of Pepe. He needs to be more consistent and make himself undropable, like Smith-Rowe, Saka and have done. That includes working off of the ball, tracking back and protecting the ball for 90 minutes. At the moment he can blow hot and cold when he has the ball but he’s rarely able to stay switched on without the ball for 90 minutes. At the very top level that isn’t good enough.

karl

Well, mid-table tells its own story with no joined up thinking. You have to wonder if players like Martinelli will hang around for the odd 10 minutes here and there.

K9ine

Don’t rate a failure like Gary Neville. If he had a clue, he will still be coaching

Biggles

It could be read as take responsibility for your performances but, having done so, if things don’t work out, don’t worry and just carry on… . Interesting to see how that translates on the pitch in the coming games.

Disarmed Gunner

I’m not buying what Arteta is selling at all. He was a cautious player and he remains a cautious manager. Not out of necessity either as some would try have you believe. When West Ham and Leeds are above you there can be no excuses. Petit is bang on: We accept and encourage mediocrity. Arteta talking about extroverts and introverts (with the emphasis on the latter) just confirms we have no voices in the dressing room. A dressing room without a voice, an owner without a voice and now, with COVID, fans without a voice. We are drifting about aimlessly… Read more »

Gus Caesar

I think it’s easy to just blame it all on the manager and have some odd conspiracy theory. He is obviously ultimately accountable but, as was true with Wenger and Emery also, I think we know the manager isn’t where the issue lies.

Qwaliteee

I wouldn’t listen too much to what Gary Neville says – especially about the Arsenal.

He has a pop at the ‘front six’ about a 0-3 score line. Says it all.

Udai

Man. I feelbad for arteta if the players just cant be arsed to show up for.him or the club. Wtf.

King K

@ “For sure, players that don’t have that emotion, that passion, that commitment, they won’t be at this football club.”

We will wait and see – come close of the transfer window, we will the judge.

Ozzie

Petit is being paid to have his comments published. Anyone who has been within a slightest sniff of pro football knows that you need a mind-blowing amount of effort and resilience to stand any chance of making it as a player. It’s a completely different matter if elderly players are starting to feel physical creaks, which then plays on their self confidence. I’ve been there and it’s not the sort of thing you can talk to your team mates or manager about, just put it out of your mind and keep going. This is something the manager needs to spot… Read more »

MojoWillneny

Petit’s comments…wow. He pulled no punches. I completely agree. Senior players as a group—for me—show less of the overall spirit I want/expect than the young players. Over the last 15 months, excepting Auba’s many goals, the inspiration has been Gabriel at the start of the season, ESR revitalizing our attacking spark, Odegaard coming in and showing great promise as a possible long term creative fixture in attack, Saka being brilliant over that entire period at multiple positions, and, of course, Martinelli’s genius goal against Chelsea. The youth is the inspiration at this club, nuff sed.

Yep it’s got to sting as an Arsenal player hearing those comments from a former Gunner who has achieved so much in his career.

I can imagine it hurts especially for Auba, Pepe and Laca who all came through the French academy system.

They can either prove him wrong or prove him right but I’m glad he said it.

Spanish Gooner

Honestly I doubt they care. It’s the footballing equivalent of every generation claiming “the kids have it so easy nowadays” when they hit middle age

Gus Caesar

Yeah and Petit isn’t a credible voice in the game anymore. I do wonder what the atmosphere in the ground would’ve been like with the fans though…

Guendouzi Oueddei

We will get there.. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Trust in Arteta, Trust the process.. I genuinely think the board want to have him and they will back him.

SarcasmB0t

If the process is to give a thirtysomething goal scorer a 300-grand-a-week contract and play him as a left wingback, or to give a thirtysomething winger a 220-grand-a-week contract to play where your club-record signing signing should play, or to refuse to even fucking register a 19-year-old signed for 28 million, that process is not a little stupid.

But hey, if it’s working, it’s working, right?

It’s not like we’re midtable or anything.

Tapps

Do you remember Sir Alex Ferguson’s first full season at ManUre?

Spanish Gooner

The “people wanted SAF out” is such a stupid argument and I’m sick of it. Do you remember Shearer’s first season at Newcastle? Or Neville at Valencia? Or Villas Boas at Chelsea? People said they were shit at the start, and then they kept being shit and were sacked. There are far more examples of this happening than there are of people magically turning into the best British Manager of all time (who, incidentally, had already broken the Glasgow domination of the SPL and won a european trophy with Aberdeen)

SarcasmB0t

You forgot Frankie boy at Chelsea.

Sometimes it really is as simple as replacing a bad manager with a good one.

SarcasmB0t

I don’t. Before my time, not my team.

I wasn’t talking about SAF at ManU, however, I was talking about Mikel Arteta’s first full season at Arsenal, and so far, it’s been pretty bad.

I think Mikel Arteta’s results with Arsenal are more relevant to Arteta’s Arsenal’s future than Sir Alex’s results with Man United.

Although if you feel like roleplaying, you are free to replace whatever future results Arteta is going to have at Arsenal with the past results of a completely different manager at a completely different club.

John C

Aubameyang’s new contract and the signing of Willian are signs of a team lacking creativity and trying to stretch a limited budget as they’re both essentially the cheap option. Getting 25 year old versions of players of that pedigree cost at least twice the price. Arsenal’s dilemma is as result of a decade or so of poor management we’ve found ourselves in a halfway house financial position between the very top clubs and those clearly defined below. We can afford the big wages and transfer fees that 2nd tier clubs can’t but we also can’t afford to do it at… Read more »

SarcasmB0t

I disagree. I think signing Auba was a good move – even at that age. He turned out to be exactly the kind of player we’d been crying out for. The bad decision was buying Lacazette the year prior, not to mention the fact that we got them both. But the truly bad move was our inability to sell Sanchez. That was so fucking stupid it makes me angry to this day. He wanted to leave, we weren’t even all that happy with him, but we didn’t sell him to City because they were our “rivals”? What?!? The main issue… Read more »

John C

Buying Aubameyang was a bad move exactly because we had bought Lacazette a few months earlier and had failed to accept City’s bid for Alexis, it was just a desperate move. As you say, just how delusional were our management to think we were rivalling City?! It tells you something about their level of arrogance. But our transfer policy had been dysfunctional for years by that point, and those responsible shouldn’t have been allowed to spend any more of the clubs money. These are the same people who spent a club record fee on Ozil despite being in Madrid to… Read more »

Biggles

I hope you’re right but the patience that it took to build Rome isn’t usually noticeable in football. Also, at Arsenal it’s not the board that matters at the end of the day it’s the owner. He’ll back the manager – right up until the second that he doesn’t as with any club with a similar ownership model (look at Chelsea for the ultimate “revolving door”). The question is when will that be, and what circumstances will bring it about. What happens this season will be a big factor, I think. It’s only MA’s first full season in charge of… Read more »

Gus Caesar

I hate saying this because I so want Arteta to succeed, but if I had to put my last tenner on the most likely scenario, it would be on him losing his job in the Winter. There’s just too much requiring action, the squad is too imbalanced to be cured this summer and the attitude is too far away from where it needs to be with many players. It’s a proper mountain that Arteta needs to climb to succeed and he needs Edu to have an absolutely worldy to achieve it too. I just can’t get away from the very… Read more »

Disarmed Gunner

Rome already exists. It’s Arsenal. Arteta sure as hell isn’t capable of building Rome. No, he is in charge of maybe restructuring the coliseum their. And let’s face it, he is making a hash of that.

ClockEndRider

Ever since Petit left the club for Barcelona, where I’m not sure he succeeded, one of a long line, he’s been a bit of an anti- Arsenal rentaquote. He appears out if the ether every time there is any difficulty but never when there is success. Go figure.

JOHN GADSDON

Well just go out there tonight and put it right not on media do the talking on the pitch . Come on you reds

karl

If you saw the graphic on MOTD, it is nothing to do with critics. Arteta’s second 25 matches in charge are far worse than his first 25. That means the popular theory about improvement is wrong. Thing are getting worse.

42 points from the earlier half and now just 33 from the recent 25 games.

JeremyDG

Yuk. I agree with GN and petit though. He wasn’t really slagging off MA (he praised the improved structure), he was angry with the players and many of them are the common denominator. Wenger, Emery, Freddie, Arteta. I remember FL got so pissed off he dropped the lot of them in one game and played all of the kids. I’ve suspected for a long time that some of the senior players don’t really give a shit. I mean they care in the same way nobody likes criticism and losing…but do they REALLY care? Are they going home and losing sleep… Read more »

JeremyDG

At this level of football, the margins for success are so fine. That extra sprint, desire and application is the difference in winning a big game 1-0 and losing it 0-3. For me the biggest problem with this team is consistent application, and MA can only fix that with hungrier players (Martinelli would be a start!).

Torterrier

If you read Tim’s latest piece, there hasn’t been much improvement in the structure, if any at all. It was Arsenal’s choice to give aging players big contracts. While I agree the aging players are not giving what we expect of them, we can’t really blame them for getting old and losing their ability to compete at the top level. At the end of it all, Arteta and Edu are to blame for the players they buy, the players they sign/extend on big contracts and the players they pick in each and every game. I just hope they realise they… Read more »

Sauce

The last player that showed that little bit of aggression was shown the door.. not saying we should have all c*nts in the team, but we need players who would get really upset when things aren’t going well.
Seems Arteta wants players who act all nice and are all lovey and likeable.
No character, no leadership.. I saw a bunch of guys who couldn’t wait for the final whistle lastweek and it’s sad what we’ve become really

Goonersince55

European football next season doesn’t look very likely, and even if we did win the EL I fear that the group stages of the CL would be a real struggle. I agree with what was said in a recent Arsecast: with no European football, MA would have all week to work with the team without midweek flights to Bratislava and all points east. This would be a rebuilding phase and MA’s future would stand or fall by our PL performance in the 2021-22 season. In such a scenario, I can’t be optimistic or pessimistic, but I’m certainly apprehensive.

Ashburton Red

We’re in transition, we’ll lose games, players wont turn up, it’s going to be bumpy.

Test is at the end of season, who they chop and change from the squad.

But really you still need to give Arteta and the board another couple of seasons to bear fruit.

There is literally no feasible alternative option. (new managers are not miracle workers, they’ll have the same problems with squad, club culture, board etc)

So just back the manager, and support the club.

Gus Caesar

I don’t think we have any choice, especially while we’re out of the stadium, but is it really acceptable to have to wait another two years? This is two years on top of the time Emery got, the time Arteta has had so far and the last years of Wenger’s reign. By sticking with Wenger for so long, the club removed a lot of that slack/time and with every season we drift further and further away from getting back to where we once were. I’m not sure they can afford to wiat 2 more years and I very much doubt… Read more »

Ashburton Red

I meant what’s the point in changing manager every 18 months or two years, as that doesn’t solve it. As we have learnt from changing from Emery to Arteta. If we do it again we’ll be in ‘crisis’ again as soon as the next manager loses a game or two. Agree it is kind of two steps forward two steps back, but at least the steps forward have been promising – new system, youthful talent etc, it’s early days but there is a potential high ceiling for the team and Arteta. Unfortunately the Livepool game was just a rewind to… Read more »

Dave Cee

He is speaking a lot of sense. I’m sure he doesn’t disagree with Many but he can’t straight say it or he will lose the dressing room. Changing the culture has to be down gradually or the players we have now will down tools and Arteta will be out of a job. I wish the progress was faster but this is the reality

Dave Cee

Manu*, not many

Dave Cee

On this subject, I think we need a better captain than Auba. Maybe Partey next season or Tierney

MrBure

The players need to take responsibility? The players? Where is he taking responsibility for the woeful mess he has made of his job? For the fact that his team selections and tactics are often wrong? For the fact that he is a terrible man-manager whose knee-jerk reactions exacerbate rather than ameliorate issues? We came into this season playing a system which requires a #10, and Arteta refused to register Ozil, refused to play ESR until he was one loss away from being sacked, and eventually went and signed Odegaard on loan. Where is he taking responsibility for these decisions? We… Read more »

Qwaliteee

Spot on mate. Very good post indeed.

Disarmed Gunner

Agree 100%. Like you I often feel like writing down Arteta’s failings but stop when I realize there are so darn many that I’ll have to write an essay. His backers can sufficiently back him with an easy “Arteta in” but there’s no credibility or support to their statement. Supporting Arsenal is tiring these days. Writing about Arsenal? Doubly so. But I appreciate you taking the time to echo the sentiments I share. And now for my piece… Arteta out!

Gus Caesar

Not saying Arteta has been perfect, not at all. But the world he’s been living in is one where the whole club is a mess. The owners, the Board, the Executive Team, the Scouting, the squad. He’s inherited a poisonous, broken and imbalanced squad and been asked to change it as his first managerial job. He was always going to make mistakes and he always had to experiment with different things as he assessed the options and players he had and tried to come up with something which worked – no top chef perfects a great meal without first having… Read more »

MrBure

Arteta has been a terrible manager, and this is coming from someone who was bitterly disappointed when we hired Emery instead of Arteta when Arsene left. He inherited a squad with problems, true. What has he done to fix them? He cuts off his nose to spite his face. He takes an issue like a player arriving late to a pre-match meeting that should be handled in-house and with discretion, and turns it into an absolute goat fuck of a public spectacle. He exiles the team’s best chance creator, and refuses to play the only other guy with a similar… Read more »

CLEGooner

Football punditry is so boring and predictable. If we come out and blow slavia off the pitch (unlikely) it will be hailed as a new dawn, the 20 millionth since 2008. The amazing thing is that people bite. As a wise man once said “sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe shit”. This is a midtable team. Losing and playing like shit sometimes is a thing midtable teams do. Overperforming and looking hood for a couple games is too. Is Arteta the second coming of Bill Shankly? Unlikely, but everyone who hates him now will be missing him when he does the… Read more »

TUMANG

It starts with you Mikkie

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

He’s 10 years early. Come back to our great club when you’ve developed more.

Dave Roberts

Willian and Laca both seem to be slow, not all that willing to put in 100%. Yet Bellerin, Luiz, Auba all seem to play as hard as possible. Petit seems to be wrong.