Mikel Arteta insists he accepts full responsibility for Arsenal’s lack of discipline in response to Bernd Leno blaming his teammates for the lack of focus which he believes has contributed to a dismal run of results.
The Gunners have dropped to 15th place in the Premier League ahead of a daunting trip to Goodison Park on Saturday and are without a top flight win since what appeared to be a landmark victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford at the start of November.
Arsenal’s wretched form has been chracterised by a lack attacking flair and regular bouts of indiscipline. Granit Xhaka and Nicolas Pepe were both dismissed for violent conduct in the the recent games against Burnley and Leeds which led Leno to launch an astonishing tirade on his colleagues ahead of Wednesday’s game against Southampton.
‘We get red cards, make mistakes, are disorganised,’ he told Sky Germany. ‘These are things that we have clearly addressed a thousand times. In the end, that’s a lack of focus among the players.
‘The coach is not an issue in the dressing room, and there is no criticism of him. We criticise ourselves and the players know that they are responsible.’
Although Arsenal subsequently arrested their slide with a 1-1 draw against the Saints, Arteta’s side were again reduced to 10 men when Gabriel was dismissed for two bookable offences in the space of five second half minutes.
Asked for his response to Leno’s comments at his pre-match press conference, Arteta said: ‘I take full responsibility because at the end of the day I pick the players that have to be on the pitch and I have to able to try and transmit to them and get themselves in a state of mind that they can control themselves.
‘Unfortunately in football everything can go so quick and emotions take a big part.
But I want the players to play with that freedom and take the pressure off them in this moment because it is really needed. That, in my opinion, is when you get the best out of them.’
‘In this moment you want players to take ownership to be accountable when they go on the pitch and you need leaders to inspire others because that gives security to players around them,’ he added.
‘Obviously David’s experience and what he’s achieved in the game is above everybody else in that dressing room so his experience can be really helpful.’