Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta is a man under pressure heading into the Premier League game against Southampton.
The Gunners welcome Saints to the Emirates Stadium tomorrow, with Arsenal languishing in 15th place in the table and just five points above the relegation zone after their worst start to a Premier League season.
A 1-0 defeat against Burnley at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday increased the pressure on the Gunners boss, with Arsenal losing their last four home matches in the Premier League.
But amid reports that some of the first team players were left unhappy with Arteta over his criticism of Xhaka following the midfielder’s red card in the defeat to Burnley, the Gunners head coach has responded to claims that he is losing the dressing room.
When asked if his players were still behind him ahead of the game against Southampton, he said: “My feeling is yes but this is a question for them obviously.
“Again, when I see the reaction and the way they try there’s not one bit that worries me that they’re not trying their best, that’s for sure.
Arteta also has the backing of Arsenal’s technical director Edu, while he has spoken of supportive messages he has received from Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who he worked alongside at the Etihad Stadium prior to joining Arsenal.
“In terms of Edu and Pep [Guardiola] they’re obviously showing their appreciation because in good moments it’s very easy but in difficult moments when you have people like them giving you support and probably two people who know very well what we’ve been through here, obviously it’s very much appreciated,” Arteta added.
“I feel the pressure all the time and there have been some difficult moments. This is our reality right now and we have to face it, be brave and fight it, with no one giving up or anything, because this is not a time to hide, it is a time to put your face and body on the line.”
Meanwhile, Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has delivered his verdict on Arteta’s Gunners, adding that he feels Arsenal are still a strong side and that certain things have been going against them.
“This is the problem for all the managers of big six teams, winning is normal, losing is a disaster,” he said, speaking at his pre-match press conference.
“You have a win in the Europa League, but it doesn’t count in the Premier League.
“I know this, I had this before, and then you have four home games without a win.
“I can only say what I have seen. Against Tottenham, they played a lot around the box like handball, but couldn’t score.
“Then yesterday [against Burnley] it was nearly the same against a side they normally have to win [against], and they had a lot of possession and chances to win this game, but they come up against a good goalkeeper [Burnley’s Nick Pope], and then a silly red card [for Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka], a stupid situation.
“They [Arsenal] have players who can hurt you, but we go there with self-confidence, but hopefully not with the self-confidence to make us stupid.”