Mikel Arteta has called on Arsenal’s players to behave like “fighters, not victims” as they bid to arrest a catastrophic run of Premier League form that has seen them earn just two points from seven games.
Arsenal hope for some welcome respite when they host Manchester City on Tuesday night in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals. Arteta thinks their top-flight results do not tell the entire story and, in a lengthy and unprompted exposition, the Spaniard reeled off a selection of statistics he believes show they should be winning “many, many football matches”.
Asked how he would react as a player when things were going against him Arteta said negative influences could not be tolerated in what appeared to become a message to his current charges. “I liked to look around me, whether it’s the staff, coaches or players, and I wanted to see fighters,” he said. “Normally when [a bad run] happens you have two types of people: fighters and victims. You need fighters and you don’t want any victims.
“Victims bring excuses, victims bring negativity and they start to blame anything that is happening around them or is not going their way. You need people who fight, people who contribute and people who are ready to give everything to the club in this moment.”
Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Everton largely replicated recent setbacks given that, like Tottenham and Burnley before them, Everton were largely content to absorb ineffectual Arsenal possession. But Arteta, seemingly making a pre-planned point given he had been asked about the morale within his dressing room, said the in-game statistics show Arsenal should be picking up far more points and that, to a large degree, they are doing enough to
“When you look at the perspective of how we are losing football matches and how we are where we are, it is pretty incredible,” he said. “Last year we won the game against Everton [at home] with a 25% chance of winning, you win 3-2. Last weekend it was a 67% chance of winning any game in Premier League history and a nine per cent chance of losing, and you lose. Three per cent against Burnley and you lose, seven per cent against Spurs, and you lose. There is something else apart from the performance on the pitch, it is something else that needs to go our way and at the moment it doesn’t.”
Arsenal have only scored twice through a striker in the league since mid-September and have struggled to create chances, but Arteta said everything bar their finishing is sufficient to turn their form around. “I’m zero interested in ball possession, I’m interested in what we do with that ball and how efficient we are,” he said. “Our conversion rate and our finishing quality is what is letting us down at the moment because with the rest it’s what it should be to win many, many football matches.
“It worked there before and we were winning because our finishing quality was through the roof and we were winning those matches.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goalscoring touch, which resurfaced last week in the draw with Southampton, will be missing against City. He was absent at Goodison Park with a calf injury and Arteta said that, while the captain felt “more positive yesterday than in the previous two days”, he will have a scan later this week to determine when he can return.