Mikel Arteta admits he must “take the bullets” for Arsenal’s poor form and has urged his players to put their bodies on the line to arrest the Gunners’ slump.
Arsenal went down 1-0 at home to Burnley on Sunday to record their third successive loss in the Premier League.
Arteta’s side have won just one of their last eight games in the competition and lie 15th in the table – just five points above the relegation zone.
The Gunners’ form has led to questions over Arteta’s future – just 12 months after he replaced Unai Emery – and he knows he must accept the criticism coming his way.
He said: “This is our reality right now and we have to face it by being brave, fighting and no one giving up. It’s not time to hide – it’s time to put your face and your body on the line.
“At the moment, I’m sorry, but we have to take the bullets. We are not winning football matches and you have to put your chest there. Hit me, because you have the right to hit me because we are not winning.
“What else can I do? Put my head down, work harder, and try to improve.
“It’s natural. I accept it and it’s part of the job. When you are not getting results, it’s the manager who has maximum responsibility. That’s why I accept because you can say whatever you want to explain, but at the end, you have to win football matches.
“This club is too big to accept this many losses in the last weeks. My chest is here – hit me, guys.”
‘I’ll protect Xhaka despite mistake’
Arsenal’s defeat to Burnley also saw Granit Xhaka sent off for grabbing the throat of Clarets’ midfielder Ashley Westwood – the latest indiscretion in his Gunners career.
The Swiss midfielder was stripped of the captaincy after swearing at supporters who were jeering him during a game last November and looked set to leave the club.
He has since been reintegrated into the team and is a regular under Arteta, who offered his strong backing to the 28-year-old.
“It [his red card] has been resolved internally,” said Arteta. “There is a lot of players who have had rocky moments.
“What I can say about Granit is his professionalism and his commitment with the club and with his team is maximal. He knows and we all know that he had a moment where he’s lost it and I know the reason why.
“But what I cannot do is throw everything he has done away because he’s made a mistake. We all make mistakes and I am here to protect the players when I see that they deserve it.
“For sure Granit is one of them for the way that he approaches every training session, the way he wants to do everything the right way and the professional that he is.”
Arsenal in crisis: How low can they go?
How much pressure is Arteta under? Just how low can Arsenal go? The Pitch to Post podcast panel discuss the crisis at the Emirates.
The Gunners were beaten 1-0 by Burnley on Sunday night, thanks in large part to Xhaka’s sending off for grabbing Westwood by the throat, meaning Arteta’s side have just 13 points from 12 games.
This was the first time Arsenal have lost four in a row at home since 1959, it was Burnley’s first top flight win over Arsenal since 1974, and Arsenal’s 10 goals from 12 Premier League games is their lowest return since 1981. A truly record-breaking season for all the wrong reasons so far for Arsenal.
To hear more, download the Pitch to Post Review podcast on your provider
Edu tells Arsenal fans to back Mikel Arteta
Arsenal technical director Edu has asked fans to believe in Arteta and insists results on the pitch do not tally with what he is seeing on the training ground.
The Brazilian also warned any disgruntled supporters the club will not be splashing the cash during the January transfer window in an attempt to remedy their current poor form.
Asked if he feels Arsenal fans should relax, Edu said: “Relaxing is too much. Just believe. Internally here, listen, we are doing well.
“My main message is that we are not talking about only one person. It is unfair to talk about Mikel, or [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang because he is not scoring goals, or [Bernd] Leno because he has to stop the goals.
“It is unfair to talk about one person. We are a football team, we have to talk about ourselves, talk about ‘we’ and not ‘him’, so that for me is the main message.
“The way I see things is very simple. It’s normal and easy to be driven by the results. But for me, the main point is when I see something in which I can see the future, see where we go, the way we’re building things, starting to see it on a daily basis.
“So the way we work, the way we train, the way we behave internally. If you see the quality of the work, if you see the quality of the people, if you see properly what’s happening here on a daily basis, it’s nothing to compare with the results.”