Mikel Arteta says he’s pleased with the spirit in the Arsenal camp as players on the fringes continue to knuckle down and push those who are getting more regular game time.
Coming into the season without European football, the boss knew he faced a tricky task keeping everyone in the dressing room motivated and the knock-on effect it could have on morale.
Despite fewer opportunities to play, he’s pleased that, so far, all his players are singing from the same hymn sheet.
“What I’m really pleased about is that the players are knocking on the door with the right attitude to play and that’s giving us options and just raises the level of the team,” said Arteta ahead of Saturday’s match at Leicester.
“I don’t see anybody trying to find excuses why they are not playing or trying to blame somebody when they’re not playing.
“Just trying to put the best possible work in in training and then talk on the pitch, which is the best way. Talking outside of the pitch is really easy because you can always find excuses and blame everybody else.
“It’s when you have the opportunity now in the moment to talk and show that you can do it and I really like, in many examples, what the players have done when they’ve been in those positions.”
On Tuesday night, goals from Eddie Nketiah and Calum Chambers helped a second-string side overcome Leeds United in the Carabao Cup to extend our unbeaten run to eight games.
Arteta is pleased with the momentum that has been built up but was quick to point out that his side remains a work in progress.
“We go game by game and try to improve every single game,” he said.
“Try to keep the spirit and perspective in the right place and when things are not working and the same when things are getting better.
“There is still a lot of things to improve and we know that we don’t want to be where we are still. We want to be the best and to do that there are a lot of things that have to get better.”
He’s also pleased that the hard graft on the training ground is starting to pay dividends: “I think in every department we can get better. The use of the ball, the understanding of the game, how we manage situations, how we deal with moments of pressure.
“In everything, in every department, I think we have a lot of improvements to make but there are some basics that we are doing much better which helps a lot to win football matches.”
The boss also took a moment to praise Nketiah and goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who both produced decent showings against Leeds.
“He [Eddie] is another one that is constantly pushing and every time he’s got a chance he takes that chance. Obviously, there are other players involved in those positions.
“It’s the same with other players that haven’t had a lot of minutes because we have not had any games in Europe, unfortunately, this season and we have to manage that situation and reward those players that they deserve.””
On the German keeper, he said: “I think he competed really well the other day and he showed his level. That what he’s here for and when he plays he needs to play at the best level and when he’s not he needs to support his teammates like everybody else does.”