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‘Draining and painful’: Arteta admits doubts during Arsenal’s awful run | Mikel Arteta


Mikel Arteta admits he questioned himself every day during Arsenal’s “draining” run of defeats which were “frustrating and painful”.

A 3-1 Boxing Day win over London rivals Chelsea was the Gunners’ first Premier League victory since 1 November. Arteta’s side had taken just two points from the seven previous fixtures before goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka and Bukayo Saka proved enough to get them back to winning ways.

Arsenal now have a run of league games that will have been identified internally as winnable fixtures – a trip to Brighton on Tuesday then away at West Brom followed by visits from Crystal Palace and Newcastle. But the recent gloom over the Emirates Stadium has not been completely cleared yet and Arteta spoke about how he was left second-guessing his decisions during their torrid spell of form.

“I question myself every day,” he said. “Since I arrived here, first of all I had to analyse really well what was happening, what we can and cannot do. Obviously results-wise in the last few weeks we have all been suffering, I have been suffering. I feel very responsible for that.

“The worst feeling is because I want to do so well for this football club and at the moment we are in, I want to bring all my passion, the knowledge that I have, the right intentions to move as quickly as we possibly can as a football club. In order to do that we need to win football matches, to be stable and win some time. When I don’t, I feel like I am letting the club down and the people that work for us, and obviously our fans.”

A banner supporting Mikel Arteta hangs at the Emirates during the Carabao Cup quarter-final capitulation to Manchester City.
A banner supporting Mikel Arteta hangs at the Emirates during the Carabao Cup quarter-final capitulation to Manchester City. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Arteta also admitted to having sleepless nights as he fathomed out a way to halt the alarming slide in performances and results. The former Arsenal captain is a year into his first managerial role and, despite delivering the FA Cup in August, was starting to feel the pressure given such a barren spell.

“It is draining, it is frustrating and it is painful,” he said. “At the same time I know we have to fight our way back. In difficult moments is when you see the right people, they give me a lot of encouragement because I see people that are willing to fight with me, with the people that we have here. It gives me energy every day to carry on doing it.

“It is a 24/7 job. As well a lot of things externally, very challenging. A lot of issues and 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 is a big headache. But as well it is the beauty of this game, to find ways of doing things in a different way.

“My responsibility is to motivate the players as much as possible, to keep them united, to keep the team spirit alive, even when you are not winning matches. When you are frustrated and sad, you have to find all the time somewhere to do that. My way has been my family and all the people that are here with me at the club, the board, Edu – they have all been super supportive and that has helped me a lot.”

Asked whether he found being in the dugout more tiring than playing the game, Arteta’s answer was unequivocal: “The simple answer is managing. Because you have a lot of people around you that you have to take care of. I always say you have 70 hearts in the training ground and stadium that you have to look after everyday. Every decision you make has an impact on their lives, their mood and the next day. So you are very aware of that and you get attached emotionally to them and I’m attached emotionally to this football club.”



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