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Mikel Arteta insists the first-team squad remains united despite Arsenal’s struggles this season, with the club needing “fighters” to help turn their situation around.

There was so much positivity at Arsenal ahead of the 2020-21 campaign after Arteta’s early work in charge, including winning the FA Cup in August.

However, the Gunners have won just four games in the Premier League so far this term and, after Saturday’s loss away at Everton, worryingly sit 15th in the table.

Stories have suggested there is unrest within the dressing room amid poor results, as well as the decision taken to ostracise Mesut Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

Tuesday’s EFL Cup quarter-final against Manchester City could provide a welcome distraction from their league woes, though Arteta again faced questions about morale among his players ahead of the game.

“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,” Arteta told the media on Monday.

“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.”

Arsenal are only four points above the relegation zone and face trips to two of the teams below them – Brighton and Hove Albion and West Brom – during a busy festive period.

Before then, however, there are two huge homes games coming up, with Chelsea visiting on Boxing Day after the midweek cup tie with City at Emirates Stadium.

Arteta was asked how he responded to tough times during his playing days, to which he responded: “I liked to look around me, whether it’s the staff, coaches, players and I wanted to see fighters.

“Normally when that happens, you have two types of people: fighters and victims. You need fighters and you don’t want any victims.

“Victims bring excuses, victims bring negativity and they start to blame anything that is happening around them or is not going their way.

“You need people who fight, people who contribute and people who are ready to give everything to the club in this moment.”

The Spaniard, who left his role as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at City to take charge at Arsenal, also confirmed he has not considered walking away from the job.

“I don’t like to think about those steps because then I will be thinking in a negative way and I cannot do that,” Arteta said.

“At the moment, I have to try to be as positive as I can, believe in what we’re doing, try to modify things to make it work better, and stay strong.  

“We’re going through a lot of difficulties, the last thing we want to be thinking of is more problems coming up in the next few months.  

“I’m not in that state of mind. I know the responsibility that I have and why I am here.”

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December 21, 2020
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