Mikel Arteta says he and his players need to “put their face and body on the line” and take the brickbats in their direction after a disastrous start to the Premier League season.
Arsenal face Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday and desperately need to stem the flow of negativity that has threatened to engulf them after four successive home defeats. It’s a quick reversal of fortune for Arteta, who was praised as recently as August after winning the FA Cup in his first half-season, but he’s determined no one is hiding his responsibility for turn the tide.
” I prefer [the] pressure to try to win the next trophy, but it’s reality and we have to face it, be brave and fight and nobody gives up, ”he said. “It’s not time to hide, it’s time to put your face and body on the line.
“Right now we have to take the balls. We don’t win matches and you have to put your chest in it, and you have the right to hit me because I don’t win. So what can I do other than hang my head, work harder, and do my best to improve? This is how we have to approach it.
Arteta was widely supported by Edu, Arsenal’s technical director, on Tuesday and it is understood that there is no serious risk to his job even if the results do not change quickly. There have been calls for his head among some sections of the fan base; he said he was comfortable with this expressed point of view and that he was hurt “more than anyone” by the fate of the team.
“It’s only natural for criticism to come to me,” he said. “I accept it and it’s part of the job. When you don’t get results, the manager has the maximum responsibility to lead. So you can say whatever you want to explain, but in the end you have to win games and this club is too big to take so many losses. My chest is there, so hit me.
Another spiral from their current 15th place would surely lead to a relegation fight, but Arteta preferred to call Arsenal’s situation a “blip”. He said any response to Granit Xhaka’s red card against Burnley on Sunday, which cost them a game they seemed likely to win, had been “resolved internally”. He publicly defended Xhaka, for whom this was not a first example of red fog, praising his professionalism and commitment.
“What I can’t do is just throw away everything he did because he made a mistake. We all make mistakes and I’m here to protect players when they deserve it.