Mikel Arteta insisted he could not criticise his players’ ‘fight’ and ‘energy’ after Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Everton but said he ‘understood’ that his position may soon become untenable if the side’s results failed to improve.
The Gunners – without their injured captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at Goodison Park – slumped to their eighth defeat in 14 Premier League games this season as Yerry Mina’s header in the dying moments of the first half proved decisive.
The Toffees’ winner came just ten minutes after Nicolas Pepe converted from the spot to cancel out Rob Holding’s own-goal on Merseyside.
The result sees Everton rise to second in the Premier League table behind city rivals Liverpool, while Arsenal are hovering just four points above the relegation zone in 15th place.
Arteta said his sole focus was getting the team out of their current predicament when prodded on the growing calls for him to get sacked at his post-match press conference.
Put to him that his position may become ‘untenable’, the Spaniard replied: ‘I understand that. My energy and my focus is only on getting the team out of that situation, maintaining the spirit of the team.
‘The fight that the boys show every time they go on the pitch and the energy the boys show on the pitch. You can see that, you cannot deny that.
‘Obviously we are against the results, it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough for the standards of this football club and this is the challenge. And the fact that we are against.’
Asked whether he feels under more pressure, Arteta responded: ‘Yes, obviously it’s a really complicated situation.
‘But I am very encouraged from what I see from the players to try and continue doing what we are trying to do with things that of course we have to improve.
‘But as well I think we’ve been very, very unlucky not to pick up many, many more points.’
‘I think the first half the first phase was slow,’ he added.
‘Whether it’s because players are restricted and they are afraid to make a mistake, or just because we felt that it was comfortable to do it.
‘But the second half it was much better, we talked about it at half-time that people has to be quick, the intention the movement to attack the spaces and we did it much more efficiently but it wasn’t enough to score more goals.’