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'Arteta is a powerful individual' - Arsenal chief executive Venkatesham backs under-fire manager

11:42 GMT 12/12/2020
Mikel Arteta Arsenal 2020-21
One of the men in charge behind the scenes at Emirates Stadium is confident that the Spaniard is the right man to take the club forward

Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham has backed under-fire manager Mikel Arteta, describing him as a "powerful individual".

Arteta was handed a three-and-a-half-year contract at Emirates Stadium in December 2019 after being chosen to succeed Unai Emery in the dugout.

The former Gunners captain inherited a squad that had slipped to tenth in the Premier League standings, but he quickly set about raising confidence levels in the dressing room and bringing back a distinctive identity which had been lacking at the start of the post-Arsene Wenger era.

Although Arteta was only able to guide Arsenal to an eighth-place top-flight finish, he made sure they didn't miss out on European qualification by overseeing a thrilling run to glory in the FA Cup.

Optimism was high for the 2020-21 campaign following that record-extending triumph, but Arsenal have ultimately failed to kick on and re-emerge as a major force in English football.

The north London outfit find themselves down in 15th after 11 fixtures, having only picked up 13 points from a possible 33, with all 14 teams above them currently boasting better attacking records.

Questions are now being asked over whether Arteta is the right man to take the club forward, but Venkatesham still believes in the Spaniard's long-term project.

"With Mikel, we have got a number of things," the Gunners chief told The Times. "You've got an individual who has extraordinary experience in the Premier League across his time at Arsenal, Everton, Manchester City and then back at Arsenal.

"You have got a guy that loves this club and understands what it means to play for this club, and he was obviously captain here. You've got a guy who is a real team player.

"The team he's formed with technical director Edu - and also his staff - is really strong. You've got a guy who is absolutely driven to succeed, but doing it in a way that respects our history and traditions.

"I think with him we have got a really powerful individual."

Arsenal bounced back from another disappointing defeat in last weekend's derby clash against Tottenham by beating Dundalk 4-2 in the Europa League on Thursday.

Arteta will hope his side can build up some much-needed momentum when they play host to Burnley on Sunday, with little margin for error remaining in their pursuit of a top-four finish.