Under-fire Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has insisted that he still has the backing of his players after the Gunners fell to their fourth defeat in five Premier League matches against Everton on Saturday. Yerry Mina’s headed finish on the stroke of half-time proved to be the winner after Nicolas Pepe’s penalty had cancelled out Rob Holding’s early own goal at Goodison Park.
The result means Arsenal will stay 15th in the league table over Christmas, with relegation starting to look like a genuine possibility if the club’s dismal form continues into the new year.
However, Arteta’s side may feel that they deserved at least a point from Saturday’s match, having registered more possession and attempts on goal than their opponents.
The Spaniard, who is facing calls to be sacked with the club seemingly in freefall, told Sky Sports after the final whistle that his players still believe in him despite the team’s lack of success this season.
When asked if he has retained the support of the dressing room, Arteta replied: “Absolutely. The boys are fighting, the boys are upset, the boys are together.”
The 38-year-old continued, claiming that his side were better than the Toffees for large parts of the game and can count themselves unlucky to miss out on claiming their first Premier League victory since the beginning of November.
“Without conceding much we lost the game on two key moments,” he said.
“We reacted really well. We dominated the game. We created enough chances at least to not lose. We hit the bar. We don’t have the luck.
“We are in a big fight. We lost against Burnley without them having a shot on target, and now we lose because of a couple of chances.
“It’s really difficult when you play a team who are defending low and wasting time. We make it difficult for ourselves conceding the first goal.
“I think we had 15 shots but only two on target. We need to improve our rate, that’s the reality. We need to generate more to win football matches. When it comes to small details, the other team wants it more.
“The boys are absolutely still fighting. They’re hurt right now.”
Arsenal will be given a welcome break from Premier League action on Tuesday as they take on Manchester City away from home in their Carabao Cup quarter-final clash, before the Gunners face another tough test against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day.