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'I am convinced that we are going to do great things together' - Arteta opens up on 'long-term' Arsenal project

17:49 EAT 15/02/2020
Mikel Arteta Arsenal 2019-20
The Spaniard admits that the Gunners are a long way off Europe's elite clubs at the moment, but he is confident of a gradual turnaround in fortunes

Mikel Arteta has identified the need to change the "culture" at Arsenal, insisting a solid foundation for future success is already in place at Emirates Stadium.

Arteta was drafted in as Unai Emery's permanent successor on December 20, after spending three-and-a-half years as Pep Guardiola's number two at Manchester City.

Encouraging signs of progress have been shown under the Spaniard, most notably in a 2-0 victory over Manchester United on New Year's Day, but the Gunners remain in mid-table.

Arteta has only picked up three wins from his opening nine games in charge, with Arsenal now ten points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Despite the team's inconsistency, a number of players have come out in support of Arteta in recent weeks, including Mesut Ozil, who says significant tactical improvements have been made since the new manager's arrival at the Emirates.

Arteta is certain Arsenal are heading in the right direction, but hopes his side can "accelerate the process" by finishing the season as strongly as possible.

"I am convinced that we are going to do some great things together," he told Sky Sports.

"We have every element that we need to be successful and take the club forward - and to do it in the way we want as well. It's great to feel that the players are enjoying it, and that they believe in what we are trying to do.

"Now it's down to us to accelerate the process as much as possible, without killing the process but by winning as many games as we can.

"The first thing was to make those changes in terms of our culture, how we live together, some of the behaviours that I expect from players and staff and some of the values that we have to have at this club.

"I think we changed the energy at this club. I think we brought the team and the fans together, which wasn't an easy thing to do.

"And then, on the playing side, I think we are starting to see some signs of how I want the team to play, how I want it to behave, and the type of passion and commitment that the players have to show under me."

Arteta went on to insist that patience will be needed as Arsenal aim to climb up the table, with the reality of their current situation dictating that major changes will not happen overnight.

"It has to be a long-term project," he said. "In the short-term, we cannot achieve all the things that this club needs. It wants to fight now with the top teams in this country and in Europe, but it is not possible. We are very far behind at the moment and everything shows how far behind we are.

"We need to make that gap shorter and shorter. But it's going to take a lot of right decisions and a great amount of energy and commitment."

Arsenal are due back in action on Sunday afternoon, as they welcome Newcastle to the Emirates for a must-win Premier League fixture.

Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares could be in line to make their debuts after joining the Gunners on loan from Flamengo and Southampton respectively in the January transfer window, but Arteta warns future recruitment could prove difficult if the team doesn't rediscover their "identity".

"Without an identity, you cannot plan and you cannot convince a player to do what you want," he said. "How do you recruit a player if you don't really know what it is that you are trying to do?

"How do you convince a player of the way you want to play if you don't have clarity yourself over why you want to do it?

"That is the first thing, I think. You have to say, 'This is the direction and this is what we want to do'.

"Then you have to convince the players and get them on board with what you are doing, and after that, you can start to build. But the identity is the foundation for everything."