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Arteta unfazed by Arsenal’s poor restart

Test after back-to-back defeats, but just months into new job the Gunners boss insists: ‘I knew when I joined what I was jumping into’

25 June, 2020 — By Steve Barnett

Mikel Arteta: ‘The past few seasons [at Arsenal], what happened, I knew it wasn’t a coincidence’

MIKEL Arteta insists he knew what he was getting himself into when he took over the Arsenal hot seat.

Turning around the underachieving club’s fortunes has arguably become the biggest challenge in English football.

The Gunners have barely looked like winning another league title since their last success in 2004.

They are also on the brink of missing out on Champions League football for a fifth successive season.

And while they have had a Europa League final and semi-final in recent years, failing to secure a seat at European football’s top table has taken a massive toll on the club’s finances.

Arteta’s arrival in December did bring a brief turnaround, with the Gunners managing to remain unbeaten domestically in 2020 until the coronavirus pandemic hit.

But back-to-back defeats away to Manchester City and Brighton after the Premier League resumed last week have been a stark reminder of just how big the challenge that lies ahead is.

“I knew when I joined what I was jumping into,” said Arteta.

“The past few seasons [at Arsenal], what happened, I knew it wasn’t a coincidence.

“I could’ve sat back and waited to see if the opportunity was still there in the summer, or I could use this time to start the process that I want to start and see where the changes that have to be made are.

“A lot of things have already changed at the club – even the results and energy was changing just before the coronavirus. I cannot control everything.

“Now I don’t have [the players] in my hands as much as I would like during the day, because they are in and out, in and out, and that is obviously not ideal for what we need as a team and as a club. But again, it’s not an excuse.

“We are here to win football games and that’s my responsibility. And I take it fully. But we are assessing a lot of things to make a very clear picture of what is going to take us to the next level, because right now what we’re doing is not enough.”

Arsenal’s cause wasn’t helped by the update from the treatment table this week, although there was some good news.

Bernd Leno has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a ligament strain. There were fears that the goalie would be out for almost a year with a cruciate ligament injury after he was stretchered off in the 2-1 defeat at Brighton on Saturday.

And Gabriel Martinelli’s season is over after it was confirmed the striker “will be out for months” with a knee injury he picked up in training.

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