Mikel Arteta admits “suffering” during “painful” period but could be boosted by trio of Arsenal’s rising stars

Photo via: @mikelarteta/Instagram 

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has admitted his struggles presiding over team affairs even in the wake of a monumental victory over London rivals Chelsea this past Saturday. 

The Gunners ran out to a 3-1 victory on the day, handing themselves a significant boost in the fight to stave off relegation. Arteta’s side weren’t favoured to snatch the three points where the bookmakers were concerned but goals coming in the form of a penalty from Alexandre Lacazette, a remarkable free-kick from Granit Xhaka, and a cheeky dink from Bukayo Saka saw to a much-needed victory for the Emirates outfit. 

The result put an end to a winless streak that had extended to seven games and, after seeing his squad win their first game since November 1, the relatively inexperienced Arteta noted the “suffering” his team has been going through amid these trying times. 

“Obviously, results-wise in the last few weeks we have all been suffering, I have been suffering. I feel very responsible,” the Spaniard stated. “I want to do so well for this football club and at the moment we are in, I want to bring all my passion, the knowledge that I have, the right intentions to move as quickly as we possibly can. 

“In order to do that we need to win football matches, to be stable and win some time. When I don’t, I feel like I am letting the club down and the people who work for us, and obviously our fans. 

“It is draining, it is frustrating and it is painful. At the same time I know we have to fight our way back. 

“In difficult moments (it) is when you see the right people, they give me a lot of encouragement because I see people that are willing to fight with me, with the people that we have here – it gives me energy every day to carry on doing it.” 

While this could mark a turning point for Arteta and his men, climbing back into contention for a top-four finish to the campaign will be difficult. Fortunately, there’s not that long a wait between their recent win against the Blues and their next game. Arsenal will take on Brighton away on Tuesday and are favourites for this one, with sportsbooks offering 13/9 on a victory against the hosts, who are 9/4 to set the opposition back on a losing path. 

Apart from the weekend result, the Gunners have something else going for them. Arteta combined a youthful attacking trio of Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe in the win over Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. The youngsters slotted in behind Lacazette and really impressed, offering energy and quality to the offence unlike what we’ve seen in past games. 

“I think it was a really good mixture today of senior players, experienced players and young talent that we have,” Arteta told reporters after the win. “They’ve been showing us in the last few weeks that they’re capable of starting the games. I had no doubt that they would respond today and I think they were really good.” 

The aforementioned youngsters could encourage the Gunners to keep their cash for rainier days, with the London side currently linked with Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho, Emi Buendia of Norwich and Internazionale’s Christian Eriksen. All of these players favour attacking from the left flank, which is exactly where Martinelli flourished on Saturday. The 19-year-old Brazilian proved too much to handle for Reece James, a player who’s quickly developing a reputation as one of the most talented fullbacks in England. 

Bringing in another left-minded attacker could see the teenager deployed centrally, which would, in turn, affect Smith Rowe’s development. The 20-year-old has been held back by a slew of injuries but he’s returned to the team to put his quality on display. Losing his spot could be devastating considering the poor luck he’s had so far. 

Saka, on the other hand, has been Arsenal’s most impressive player all year and he could be the one most impacted by a new arrival. Should the club opt to hold what they have moving forward, they could learn a whole lot about themselves, likely in a positive way. 

Meanwhile, it’s being reported that former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez is in line to replace his compatriot as Arsenal boss. 

Thomas Tuchel, recently axed by French side Paris Saint-Germain, and ex-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri are said to be among potential hirings but Benitez, who guided Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005, is understood to be the club’s top priority. 

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