Sam Allardyce has piled the pressure on beleagured Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and emphatically claimed that the struggling Gunners are in the thick of a relegation dogfight.
The former England manager was appointed by West Brom last week following the Baggies’ decision to part company with Slaven Bilic, the man who had masterminded their Championship promotion campaign last season.
Allardyce made a less than auspicious start to his tenure with his first game in charge ending in a calamitous 3-0 defeat against Midlands rivals Aston Villa.
West Brom are currently 19th in the table, five points from safety and a further two points adrift of Arsenal who are without a league win since November 1.
Arteta’s confidence-sapped side were battered 4-1 by Manchester City in last night’s League Cup quarter final at the Emirates and even though that defeat took place in a different competition, Allardyce believes the loss will only serve to heap further pressure on a side ‘who don’t know what has hit them’.
Asked if Arsenal were in a relegation scrap, Allardyce said: ‘Absolutely. They haven’t won a PL game for almost double figures (is seven, one win in 10). Getting beaten last night, even though not in PL drains confidence of Arsenal’s players. They will be wondering what has hit them.’
Arsenal face Chelsea on Boxing Day before potentially season-defining matches against Brighton and Allardyce’s West Brom. Arteta has been keen to stress the positives of late, but he now accepts his side will be in a grave situation if results do not improve immediately.
‘Obviously the two goals that we conceded [against Manchester City] put the game into a really difficult situation. The first one was a really soft one really early in the game.
‘That obviously gives us the worst possible scenario in the situation we are in, a real test. The team reacted really well and after that we kept trying, we scored a really good goal.
‘We started to be on top of the game for 25 minutes after that, I think we were the better team. Then in the best moment of the game, we concede another soft goal.
‘After that, we kept trying, we had a really good situation to go completely through on goal with Lacazette but we missed the pass and on the counter they scored an offside goal. After it was 3-1, I think the game was over.
‘I’m really feeling for the players, and obviously for our fans because something is happening every game for different reasons. But we need results.’