Mikel Arteta has insisted that Arsenal are moving in the right direction, ahead of a ‘crucial’ two weeks of fixtures in their season.
The Gunners are facing a real battle to try and rectify their currently underwhelming campaign, with them currently nine points adrift of a top four spot and already out of the FA Cup.
They had put in some improved displays at the back end of the festive period, although they’ve since lost their last two games, including a calamitous defeat away at Wolves in which they went down to nine men following red cards to both David Luiz and Bernd Leno.
Arteta’s men will be hoping to avoid a third successive defeat against Leeds United on Sunday, while they’ve also got a two-legged tie with Benfica and a Premier League encounter with Manchester City to come in the next fortnight.
Such a run of games could well determine how the rest of their campaign plays out, with Arteta admitting they face a ‘crucial’ period in their season.
“It’s going to be crucial,” the Arsenal boss said at his pre-match press conference.
“We don’t have any margin now in the league and, in the Europa League, they are knockout games, so the moment you don’t do what you have to do you are out.
“First of all, we have to improve our position in the league dramatically, and in order to do that we have to win a lot of football matches.
“How many will depend on what the opponents do because at the moment it’s not in our hands.
🗣 "He was devasted, we haven't had him in three games consecutively. It's a big blow for us."
Mikel Arteta on Thomas Partey's struggle with injuries since arriving at Arsenal pic.twitter.com/Oxqz9lS95V
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) February 12, 2021
“We need to get into Europe, into a really, really close situation where we can compete for that ‘trophy’, because that’s going to be key as well to see where we can compete in which competition next season.”
The Spaniard’s youthful side have shown glimpses of their capability and potential so far this term, although the lack of ‘consistency’ is seemingly holding them back.
“We have talked since the start of the season about what we are lacking is the consistency to do it every three days and keep winning and winning and winning,” he added.
“We had a really good patch in the last seven games when we won a lot and just drew one and didn’t concede many goals, and then we ended up losing the last two games in an incredible way.
“The margins when you win and lose games are really thin and, when it’s down to you, you cannot make those mistakes.”
Arteta has a worse win rate (42%) in the Premier League than his predecessor, Unai Emery (49%), though the Spaniard insists his side are improving, though conceded there is still ‘enormous’ room for further development
“I see how the team is developing,” he said. “The biggest way to look at it is when we play a team in the first leg in the Premier League and then when we play them again.
“The game we played against Aston Villa at home and the game we played against Aston Villa a few days ago, and if we compare the way we played against Aston Villa away last season in June, it’s a completely different team.
“Is it going to take time? Yes, I said it from the first minute.
“Do I see a lot of progress in many areas? Yes. But the margin for improvement is still enormous and I said that from day one, and when we were winning against big teams and winning trophies.”