Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta calls on leaders to take responsibility as sack threat looms

Arsenal: Arteta reflects on first year in charge of Gunners

Mikel Arteta goes into the final game of his first year in charge believing ‘the most challenging year in the club’s history’ has given him a decade’s worth of experience.

Even if Arsenal win at Goodison, the very best position they can hope to finish their first year of the Arteta era is 13th.

The Spaniard inherited the club when they were languishing in 10th.

That said, he has at least added two trophies – the FA Cup and Community Shield – to the Emirates trophy cabinet.

That, plus dealing with coronavirus and all that entails, has put the 38-year-old on a remarkably steep learning curve.

“I want to believe I am much better as a manager,” Arteta said. “I have experienced things in a year that in a normal job you would experience in 10 or 8, I don’t know.

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“But it’s been great. Great because of the people I have around me, the experience we have been able to share with everyone in the club, with the players in this moment has united everybody a lot.

“We’ve gone through that and we will get through it and I have some really good highlights obviously.

“But it’s been one of the most challenging years of the club’s history.

“For many different reasons, I think we have made a lot of progress and implement a lot of positive things that have worked really well.

“We have gone through structural changes right across the club that has shaken the club big time.

“I think it could have been a really positive year but the recent form in the Premier League is taking the gloss off what we’ve done in the calendar year.

“We have to accept that form has not been good enough for this football club.”

Arteta’s most recent headache has been the ill-discipline that has robbed his team of key players with a string of suspensions.

Hector Bellerin is back after serving a one-match ban for his fifth booking, but Granit Xhaka is still serving his time for being sent off against Burnley last week and is joined by Gabriel who was given his marching orders against Watford.

David Luiz may be recovered enough to resume his role in the heart of defence and Arteta admits hs return could not be more timely with the spine of his team missing a little bit of leadership.

“It’s a key word you just used because in this moment you want players to take ownership,” Arteta said.

“To be accountable when they are going into that football pitch and you need leaders to inspire others because that gives security to others around.

“Obviously David’s experience and what he has achieved in the game is above everybody else in that dressing room for sure so his experience can be helpful.”

PROBABLE ARSENAL TEAM (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Bellerin, Elneny, Ceballos, Saka; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

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