Arsenal: "We have to take the bullets" accepts Arteta
Arsenal only have themselves to blame for a run of league form that has left them just five points above the drop zone, says manager Mikel Arteta.
Mikel Arteta is prepared to "take the bullets" as he desperately attempts to turn around Arsenal's dismal start to the Premier League season. The Gunners slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Burnley at Emirates Stadium on Sunday – their fourth straight home league loss, which represents their worst such run since 1959. That result left them languishing 15th in the table, 10 points off the top four and only five points clear of the relegation zone.
Arsenal's struggles to find the net
They have scored just 10 goals in 12 games, their lowest figure at this stage of a top-flight season in 39 years, while only Newcastle United, Burnley, Sheffield United and West Brom have had fewer shots and shots on target than Arsenal.
Arteta has the opportunity to get his side back to winning ways on Wednesday when high-flying Southampton visit north London. The Saints sit fourth after seven wins from their opening 12 games, but they have failed to triumph in any of their 21 games away to Arsenal in the Premier League – the most home games a team have played against another in the competition without ever losing.
The Spaniard, who was appointed as Arsenal boss almost a year ago, has no issues with the scrutiny he is under and acknowledges it is his responsibility to reverse the Gunners' fortunes. "I feel the pressure all the time. It will always exist," he told a news conference. "This is our reality and we have to face it. We have to face it being brave, fighting and no one giving up. It's not time to hide. It's time to put your face and your body on the line. At the moment, I'm sorry but we have to take the bullets. We are not winning football matches and you have to put your chest there and [say] 'hit me' because you have the right. What else can I do? Put my head down and work harder and try to do things better and improve. That's how we have to approach it, in my opinion. This is natural and I accept it. It's part of the job. When you are not getting results the manager has the maximum responsibility. You can say whatever you want to explain, but at the end of the day you have to win football matches. This club is too big to accept this many losses in the last weeks. So my chest is here. Hit me."
Xhaka sent off
Arsenal's cause against Burnley at the weekend was not helped by the dismissal of midfielder Granit Xhaka. The Switzerland international was initially booked for a foul on Dwight McNeil by referee Graham Scott, who was then advised by VAR to review footage of the skirmish that broke out following the challenge. Having seen the 28-year-old grab Ashley Westwood around the neck, Scott upgraded the card to red. The dismissal was the sixth in the Premier League for Arsenal since Arteta was appointed, double the number of any other top-flight team across the same period. As for Xhaka, it was his third red card for Arsenal; only four other players have been sent off more times for the north London club during the Premier League era.
Arteta explained Xhaka's "mistake" had been dealt with behind closed doors. "It has been resolved internally," he said. "Players have rocky moments. What I would say about him is that he is professional and his commitment to his club and team-mates is maximum. He knows and we all know that he had a moment where he lost it. I know the reason why but I can't throw everything he has done away because he made a mistake. We all make them. I am here to protect the players when I see that they deserve it. For sure, Granit is one of them for the way he approaches every training session, the way he wants to do things the right way all the time and because of the professional he is."
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