Arteta points to Xhaka as he spells out aim for "powerful unity" at Arsenal
Mikel Arteta has spelt out his determination to bring a new “powerful unity” to the dressing room as he looks to change Arsenal ’s DNA.
Arteta admits that Arsenal are still some way off competing the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City despite beating the Premier League’s top two within the space of four days.
Arsenal have been accused of being a soft touch and weak defensively since Arteta’s days as a player and the Gunners boss says changing the mentality was his first target after taking over.
Arteta said: “It’s one of the basics that we have to be one of the best at doing it. That criticism is sometimes fair, sometimes not.
“I try to convince them that without that we cannot compete with the top teams at the moment because there are other areas that we have to improve a lot. But if we are willing to do that and we do it throughout the game then we’re going to give ourselves a big, big chance.
“We have big moments in every game where we have enough players to make a difference for us. The fact of the trick here is that they’re really enjoying doing that.
“If they do it because we have to push them to do it all the time, for me that’s not the right way and we’re not going to accomplish it long-term.
“If they start to enjoy doing it together and be proud of it, and they can see the results and sense that unity and together, that is powerful. Hopefully we can do that.”
Arteta held up Granit Xhaka as an example of how a player can turn around their fortunes on the pitch as the Arsenal midfielder has also won back the fans who turned on him.
Xhaka was on his way out before Arteta arrived and is now a shining light to the likes of Mesut Ozil if he wants to get back into the first team picture, although realistically that has gone for Matteo Guendouzi even if the manager would never admit it publicly.
Arteta said: “We all learn from that and I think Granit is a really good example for any player that is in a difficult moment… If you are willing and if you are consistent and you really want to do it there is always a way back.
“But when you win everything is more positive and then doing a very similar performance and you lose and then the perception is different. It’s about what we are feeling and how we want to do it. In that process it is going in the right direction.”
However, Arteta insists that he is now determined to make sure Arsenal are no longer beaten before the start of games when they face big opponents and wants to strip away that fear.
“It’s in everybody’s nature – players and managers – to look at the opposition before games and look at all the beautiful things that they do. Sometimes a manager will look at ‘oh no, if they do that we’re not going to be able to control that,’ said Arteta.
“That worry and uncertainty is always there. That’s why it's so important that at least if you know what the people around you are going to be doing and you have zero doubts about what they can do together, that gives you a lot of security before going into the game.”
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