Goalkeeper Bernd Leno has leapt to Mikel Arteta’s defence and insists the players and not the coach are to blame for Arsenal’s woes.
Wednesday’s 1-1 home draw with Southampton stopped the rot but the Gunners are just three places above the drop zone. Saints’ Theo Walcott opened the scoring on 18 minutes but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang levelled in the second period.
Defeats to Wolves, Tottenham and Burnley have seen the north Londoners plunge down the table. They have won just four top-flight games this term and have not taken three points since beating Manchester United.
That was on November 1 and things will not get easier as a trip to face Everton is up next. Arteta has been criticised for his side’s displays but Leno has tried to deflect any blame onto the players.
“That [pressure on Arteta] is not an issue at all,” he told Sky Germany. “The coach is least to blame for the fact that we are in this situation.
“If you look at the way we were running around on the pitch at times, then the players are the only ones to blame. I have to be honest about that.”
And the Germany keeper believes he and his team-mates need to show more discipline to turn things around.
“We’re getting red cards, making mistakes, standing out of position,” he added. “These are things that we have clearly addressed a thousand times. In the end, it’s a lack of focus on the part of the players.”
Arsenal’s solid start now seems a long time ago although they did cruise through their Europa League group. There are clearly many issues to solve and it remains to be seen if Arteta pays the price.
When the chips are down, it would be easy for players to point the blame at others. However, Leno is not prepared to do that and pulled no punches in his assessment of their recent displays.
“We did draw 0-0 at Leeds, but that was a lucky point,” he added. “We deserved to lose against Tottenham, against Wolverhampton as well, against Aston Villa even 3-0. Those were just far too many weak results and disappointing performances.”
Leno’s words do not make for good reading as the problems he outlined are clearly for the manager to solve. Whether the powers that be agree with him only time will tell but he was scathing about the squad.
“The attitude is bad, the discipline is lacking and we have no self-confidence,” he continued. “There are many factors at play here.”
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