Mikel Arteta asks his players to be brave

Arsenal are enduring the worst start to a Premier League season in 46 years after their fourth successive home defeat against Burnley. The lack of scoring goals has resulted in Gunners occupying the 15th spot, with just five points separating them from the relegation zone. Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal face the high flying Southampton on Wednesday trying to avoid losing five consecutive home games for the first time in their history.

Arteta admits critics have the right to criticise him after the poor start this season, but denied on the talks of relegation battle. Speaking to reporters ahead of the Southampton game, Arteta said “At the moment, I’m sorry, but we have to take the bullets. Dropping and dropping down the table is not the situation we want to be in. But this is our reality right now and we have to face it. We have to face it being brave, fighting and no-one giving up or anythingIt’s not time to hide. It’s time to put your face and body on the line.”

The Spaniard admits he is happy to take the criticism for their failings on the pitch, and said “We are not winning football matches and I have to put my chest there and you have to hit me. You have the right to hit me because I’m not winning. So what else can I do? Put my head down, work harder and try to do things better and improve. That’s how we have to approach things, in my opinion.

It’s natural. I accept the criticism and it’s part of the job. You can explain whatever you want but, at the end of the day, you have to win football matches and this club is too big to accept this many losses in the last weeks. So my chest is here – hit me, guys.”

Arteta has defended Granit Xhaka for his needless sending off against Burnley and praised him for his professionalism. Speaking on the midfielder, Arteta added “He has had tough times here and he’s not the only one, there’s a lot of players that have had rocky moments. But what I can say about Granit is that his professionalism and his commitment with the club and with his team-mates is maximal.

He knows – and we all know – that he had a moment where he’s lost it and I know the reason why. But what I cannot do is just throw everything that he has done away because he’s made a mistake. We all make mistakes and I am here as well to protect the players when I see that they deserve that.

And, for sure, Granit is one of them – for the way that he approaches every training session, for the way he wants to do things in the right way all the time and for the professional that he is.”

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