December 23 – He was hired as the man to finally turn things around in the post-Arsene Wenger era. Instead they are going from bad to worse.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks set to have a nail-biting Christmas after the club’s worst start to a league campaign for 46 years was compounded by being thrashed 4-1 in the League Cup quarterfinals by holders Manchester City on Tuesday.
Despite words of encouragement afterwards from City manager Pep Guardiola, under whom he worked for three years, Arteta’s job hangs in the balance according to British press reports with the club languishing in 15th place.
Arsenal haven’t been relegated since the 1912-13 season when, as Woolwich Arsenal, they finished bottom of the old First Division.
That is unlikely to happen but with their next game, straight after Christmas, against high-flying London rivals Chelsea, the pressure is mounting on the Spaniard, who had five years at Arsenal as a player and looked the perfect appointment when he won the FA Cup after only a few months in charge.
“We have to turn it around,” admitted Arteta, who was hired when compatriot Unai Emery was sacked a year ago following a distinctly underwhelming 18 months in charge but who has never been in the hot seat as the main man and lacks management experience, on and off the pitch.
“If we don’t, we are in big trouble. We do have the tools to turn things around because I see how much the players try and what they are trying to do, but at the moment a lot of strange things are happening in every game and that makes things really difficult.”
“On the basis of what we have shown tonight against difficult opponents, I have fighters in my team.”
After losing five of their last seven league games, never have the Gunners needed to show such fight as over the next few games of a potentially season-defining schedule.
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