Mikel Arteta: Arsenal's bad start 'makes you want to hit yourself'

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Mikel Arteta: Arsenal's rubbish start 'makes you want to hit yourself' - GETTY IMAGES
Mikel Arteta: Arsenal's rubbish start 'makes you want to hit yourself' - GETTY IMAGES

Mikel Arteta has said Arsenal’s dismal start to the season had left him “just wanting to hit yourself” as he opened up on the personal strain he experienced after their three gruelling defeats.

Arsenal’s victory over Norwich City on Saturday moved them off the foot of the table and provided the team with their first points of the new campaign, which began with losses to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City. Arteta said he was at his “lowest” point following last month’s 5-0 defeat at Manchester City, his former club, but added that he refused to blame the players for their struggles.

The Spaniard also claimed that the last two weeks had been the best 15 days he has ever had in football, despite the difficulties Arsenal have faced, as they helped him to “find a purpose for why you do what you do”.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half winner was enough for Arsenal to defeat Norwich, although Arteta’s side could have scored two or three more goals in the second half. Asked what he did over the past two weeks to cope with the disappointment of their start to the season and the mounting pressure on him,

Arteta said: “What I did probably was against myself because you are upset with yourself, you are angry, you are tired. You just want to hit yourself because you are not doing things right and you are not getting the outcome you think you deserve. You have to understand why you do it. So after the loss against City probably I was at the lowest. And then you start to try to analyse things. You hear different opinions – media, criticism – and then probably you go even further.

“And then starts the importance of having the family I have, the wife and kids I have, the parents and the friends I have. In difficult moments they show their commitment in your relationship with them. After that it is every person that works in this club, from top to bottom, and the energy they try to provide.”

The 39-year-old said it was “impossible” to not take his stress home with him but said the support of his wife and three sons helped to provide perspective as he and his players faced heavy criticism.

“That negativity has to come away,” he said. “You have to bear in mind that first of all you are doing everything you can to your best capacity, and don’t kid yourself or look for excuses. Normally the easiest thing to do is blame the players, [to say] ‘they are not good enough, I have this, I have that’ and then you try to over-coach them. I was not willing to do that because first of all they don’t deserve that. The people around this club don’t deserve it.”

The mood at the Emirates was boosted by the presence of new signings Takehiro Tomiyasu and Aaron Ramsdale, who made their first Premier League appearances for the club. Tomiyasu came straight into the team at right-back following his £16 million move from Bologna on deadline day.

Ramsdale, a £24 million signing from Sheffield United, was recruited as the long-term replacement for Bernd Leno but appears to have already overtaken the German in Arteta’s pecking order. The 23-year-old impressed with his communication on Saturday, and showed confidence with the ball at his feet.

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