Beleaguered Lego man Mikel Arteta has stiffly raised his arm at an awkward angle in a defiant rallying call to his flat-footed Arsenal side – “we can stay up!”
The Gooners fell to a sixth defeat in their opening ten Premier League games on Sunday at the hands of their hated London rivals Tottenham and the even more-hated opposing manager and the scourge of Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho.
But the Emirates chief wasn’t disheartened by the performance, telling his side that the kind of spirit they showed in the game is what will keep them in the Premier League next season.
“We need to fight, but we showed in this game that we can. To only lose 2-0 to this side, well, that tells you we are going in the right direction.”
Goals have been in short supply for Pep’s former assistant this season, with his team netting just 10 times in the opening months of the season. Only the bottom three, Burnley, West Brom and Sheffield United, have scored fewer goals so far in the league.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” the manager said when faced with his side’s slumping strike-rate. “That shows we’re better than at least three other teams in the league.
“We’ll be safe with a couple of games to spare at the rate we’re going.”
Without a win in four games, his side is six points above the dropzone and is set for a crucial six-pointer next weekend as Burnley visit the Emirates.
December will be a huge month for teams at the bottom of the Premier League table 🍿
Dec. 13: Arsenal vs. Burnley
Dec. 16: Fulham vs. Brighton
Dec. 20: Brighton vs. Sheff. Utd
Dec. 29: Brighton vs. Arsenal
Dec. 29: Burnley vs. Sheff. Utd pic.twitter.com/OuPho23HMN
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) December 7, 2020
“We need to dig in against them, it’s a crucial game already. They’ve two goals in their last seven games, so our defence will need to be on alert for at least one, if not two or three, efforts on goal.
“I’m considering a new formation, 8-1-1, to tighten things up and ensure we get a big point. Pep said it was a genius idea at City but we didn’t have enough defenders in the squad to try it.”
And, in a bid to boost morale, the manager is also set to offer an olive branch to outcast midfielder Mesut Ozil, though the German international’s return may come at a cost beyond his £350k-per-week wages.
“He wants the password to the Arsenal twitter account, shares in the Kroenke’s businesses, and Gunnersaurus up-top alongside Auba if he’s going to return,” according to a source.
“Some have said it’s like playing with ten men when he’s in the team, but with Partey running off the pitch during games now, what’s the difference?” they asked when discussing the chances of a return.
“He’s just the kind of fighter who’ll slip right back into this team.”
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