Mikel Arteta insists he is supported by everyone at Arsenal despite the difficulties of “one of the most challenging years in the club’s history”.
The Gunners have taken only 14 points from 13 Premier League matches this season, their lowest tally at this stage of a campaign since 1974-75.
They battled to a 1-1 home draw with Southampton at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday but have now only won once in nine league matches. Indeed, since Arteta took charge last December, Arsenal have won more cup matches (14 of 17) than league games (13 of 33).
With his side 15th in the table and already 14 points behind leaders Liverpool, pressure has been growing on Arteta as he attempts to secure Champions League football for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
However, the former midfielder says the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, along with structural changes behind the scenes at the club, means Arsenal’s tough 2020 should come as little surprise.
“I think it has been one of the most challenging years in the club’s history for many, many different reasons,” he said on Friday.
7 – Since Mikel Arteta’s first Premier League game in charge (Boxing Day 2019), Arsenal have been shown seven red cards, four more than any other PL side in this period. Mist. pic.twitter.com/6fXjoVralK
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 16, 2020
“I think we have made a lot of progress and implanted a lot of positive things that have worked really well. We have gone through structural changes right across the club that has obviously shaken the club, big time.
“I would say the highlights of the year is the two trophies that we have won together, and the most disappointing thing is that we haven’t had our fans with us to take us through this difficult moment. I think it could have been a really, really positive year but the recent form in the Premier League is taking the gloss off what we have done in the calendar year. But we have to accept that our Premier League form in recent weeks is not good enough for this football club.
“I said from the start that I felt really supported by the owners, by the board, by the technical director and then by everybody that is at the club. At the end of the day, it’s the feeling that I have with the staff, with the coaching, with the players – the most important one.
“It’s about what chemistry you have with them, what understanding they have. Do they follow you? Do they believe in what you are trying to do? I always have to say thank you, because I haven’t seen anything that goes against what we are trying to do.
“It’s like anything. This industry needs results. After a big shake-up, we need to find the stability. In order to do that, we need time. We all knew – at least the people who made the decision with me to start this new project – that it wouldn’t be a quick fix and it was going to take time. When you are shaking things up, things can take a while.”
Arsenal face Everton on Saturday hoping to continue their historically good form against the Toffees. They have won more Premier League games (34) and scored more goals (110) against Carlo Ancelotti’s side than they have against any other opponent.
Arteta hopes the nature of their draw with Southampton, when they held out for a point despite losing Gabriel to a red card after 62 minutes, shows his team are prepared to fight for results.
“We could’ve won it at the end when Rob [Holding] hit the post in the last minute. We are lacking that luck,” he said.
“But I really liked it because when a team is in this moment, you could completely drop and give up, but the team never did that. I think it was completely the opposite and I’m proud to see that reaction from the team. Right now, what we need is to win football matches as well. That’s our reality.”