Mikel Arteta knows Arsenal have a huge task on their hands after a 2-1 defeat to Everton left the Gunners without a Premier League win in seven games.
Arsenal will drop to 16th by the end of the weekend if Brighton and Hove Albion defeat lowly Sheffield United on Sunday.
The Gunners’ points return of 14 from as many games this season is their worst record at this stage since the 1974-75 campaign (converted to three points per win).
Arteta’s side have failed to score from open play in any of their past five Premier League away games, with their two goals on the road since Alexandre Lacazette’s strike against Liverpool coming from the penalty spot.
Nicolas Pepe restored parity from 12 yards after Rob Holding’s own goal put Everton ahead on Saturday, but Yerry Mina’s header on the stroke of half-time proved enough to claim a third straight win for Carlo Ancelotti’s and lift them into second place.
Sunday marks a year since Arteta was appointed as Arsenal boss. The Gunners have won more matches in cup competitions (14 of 17) than they have in the Premier League (13 of 34) in that timeframe, and Pep Guardiola’s former assistant knows his team must fight to get out of the situation they find themselves in.
“Without conceding much we lost the game on two key moments,” Arteta, whose side managed just two attempts on target at Goodison Park, told Sky Sports.
“We reacted really well. We dominated the game. We created enough chances at least to not lose. We hit the bar. We don’t have the luck.
14 – Arsenal’s points return from 14 games this season is their worst record at this stage since the 1974-75 campaign (12 points, converted to 3/win). Desperate. pic.twitter.com/wowPbSkoXe
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 19, 2020
“We are in a big fight. We lost against Burnley without them having a shot on target, and now we lose because of a couple of chances.
“It’s really difficult when you play a team who are defending low and wasting time. We make it difficult for ourselves conceding the first goal.
“I think we had 15 shots but only two on target. We need to improve our rate, that’s the reality. We need to generate more to win football matches. When it comes to small details, the other team wants it more.
“The boys are absolutely still fighting. They’re hurt right now.”
While Arsenal have now lost as many league matches as they have won under Arteta (W13 D8 L13), Everton have guaranteed themselves a spot in the top four heading into Christmas since the 2004-05 season.
“We did very well [in our] last few games. Brilliant performances and fantastic results. We showed more consistency,” Carlo Ancelotti told BBC Sport.
“This season we started well, then we had a difficult moment, but right now I’m really pleased.
“We are pleased; the position in the table is really good. But as I said last week it is not the end of the season, we have to keep fighting, but it was a top, top performance today.”
Both teams are in EFL Cup action next. Arsenal go up against another of Arteta’s old clubs in the form of City on Tuesday, with Everton hosting Manchester United a day later.