Mikel Arteta believes his Arsenal project will really get going once normality returns to football after the pandemic.
The Gunners have endured a disappointing season so far during Arteta’s first full campaign in charge and head into Thursday night’s crucial Europa League tie with Olympiacos knowing that winning that competition is their best route back into Europe next season.
Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Burnley leaves Arsenal 10th in the Premier League with 11 games remaining, 12 points adrift of the top four and eight points adrift of the top six, and with their FA Cup defence having ended at the fourth round stage, many are questioning whether there has been any real progress at Emirates Stadium under the Spaniard.
What has been said?
Arteta remains adamant that there has improvement and says the difficulties his team have faced throughout the pandemic, both on and off the pitch, will actually work to Arsenal’s advantage in the long-term once football returns to normality.
When asked what the past year has been like following his positive coronavirus test which resulted in football being shut down in March 2020, Arteta said: “I could never imagined when I got tested and had the symptoms, all of the consequences that this virus was going to have on all of us.
“Having my first job, to do that and after being in the job for only three months in normal conditions, to start to have a completely different context and framework to work in has been really challenging but, at the same time, it has made us, as a club, much stronger.
“We have created a really strong group, a really strong bond with our players, with our fans, with our staff and that is going to pay some big tribute in the future I think when everything comes back to normality and we are able to work the way we needed to work with some stability.
“I think this project is going to go ‘bang’ and this is where we are. Sometimes it is difficult to see the moment now, but I’m sure where we are going."
What else did Arteta say?
When pressed on whether winning the Europa League this season was the only way he could convince others that his Arsenal project was on track, the Gunners boss added: “You need to win to convince anybody that you are doing a good job and taking the club in the right direction.
“If you are not inside every day and you know exactly what is happening at the club, the only way to convince anybody is to win.
“It doesn’t matter how well you play, or if you deserve to win every single match. If you don’t win, I am not going to convince you or any fan or supporter that we are doing a great job. It’s only about winning and that’s the only way to convince people.”