Mikel Arteta admits he ‘feels responsible’ for Arsenal’s recent ‘suffering’ but insists he has felt the club’s support despite their difficult start to the season.
Arsenal have endured their worst-ever start to a Premier League campaign and are currently languishing in 15th in the division, though a 3-1 victory over Chelsea on Boxing Day ended a run of seven games without a win.
It’s been a dreadful start to Arteta’s first full season in charge of the north London side and one that has seen the pressure significantly increase on the inexperienced manager, who has failed to build on his success of last season after guiding the Gunners to FA Cup success.
Arsenal sit just six points above the relegation places at present but face four of the bottom seven sides in their next four Premier League fixtures, including a meeting with 16th-placed Brighton this evening.
Arteta has shouldered the responsibility for Arsenal’s faltering fortunes, however, admitting his first taste of management as been ‘frustrating’ and ‘painful’ on occasions as he bids to lead his side through a difficult moment.
“Obviously results-wise in the last few weeks, we’ve all been suffering,” Arteta said at his pre-match press conference. “I’ve been suffering and I feel very responsible for that.
“The worst feeling is because I want to do so well for this football club and now, with the moment we are in, I want to bring all of my passion, the knowledge that I have and all the right intentions to move as quickly as we possibly can as a football club. In order to do that we have to win football matches to be stable and win some time and when I don’t, I feel that I am letting the club down and the people who work for us down and obviously our fans too.
Mikel Arteta says he has had to adapt his tactical approach “much more” than he expected since taking over as Arsenal boss, due to the composition of his squad.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 29, 2020
“It’s draining, it’s frustrating and it’s painful. But at the same time, I know that we have to fight our way back and difficult moments are when you see the right people giving me a lot of encouragement, because I see people who are willing to fight with me and the people that we have here and then it gives me energy every day to carry on.”
Arteta was asked whether his side’s stuttering start has seen him question himself as a manager and admits he has had to adapt his tactical approach since arriving at the Emirates, revealing he has altered his style to suit the players currently at his disposal.
“Yes, I question myself every day,” he said. “But since I arrived here, first of all, I had to analyse really well what was happening, what we can and what we cannot do and I have adapted probably much more than I thought I would to suit the team because there are certain things that I think are much better for the qualities of the players that we have and other things that we are probably not prepared to do yet.
“Things will come out but obviously we have to adapt because at the end of the day we have to make life as simple, as clear and as efficient as possible for our players when they go onto that pitch.”
Arteta also discussed his use of the term ‘suffering’ to describe the club’s current plight and suggested there have been many different issues for his side throughout the campaign, though insists the Arsenal hierarchy have been ‘super supportive’ as he bids to turn the Gunners’ fortunes around.
Under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal have a 50% win rate against ‘big six’ opposition in all competitions, defeating:
Manchester United x2
Manchester City x1
A really good record. pic.twitter.com/665Ch8ZYqM
— LTArsenal (@ltarsenal) December 26, 2020
“Externally as well it’s been very challenging with different issues coming up with one player or one staff and a lot of issues that they’ve been going through. Then when results hit you like that, you can sometimes not find the right reasons to understand why we are losing football matches when we produce what we produce, it’s a big headache but it’s the beauty of this game when you find ways of doing things in a different way.
“As well, my responsibility is to motivate the players as much as possible and keep them united and keep the team spirit alive even when we are not winning football matches. Obviously, that is not an easy thing to do and requires a lot of energy and sometimes when you are frustrated and sad, you have to find other time somewhere to do that and for me it’s been my family and all the people that are involved here with me in the club, the board and Edu and they have all been super supportive. That has helped me a lot.“