Mikel Arteta confident Arsenal’s players are in a ‘good emotional state’

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta believes his players are in a “good emotional state” following the latest Football Association charge to hit the club – but admits he will hold talks with his squad to bring about a change in “behaviour”.

The Gunners were charged for allegedly failing to control their players as they crowded referee David Coote having not been awarded a penalty for handball in the first half of their FA Cup win over Oxford.

That followed on from a similar incident in a victory at Leeds in October, with Arteta’s own touchline behaviour widely criticised in recent weeks.

The Spaniard takes his side to face north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday with Arsenal making the short trip sitting top of the Premier League.

Asked if the latest incident showed his players are feeling the pressure of leading the way in the league, Arteta replied: “I think the players are in a good emotional state.

“They are excited, they are enjoying playing together and obviously we are in a good position. We have to now improve a lot of things and maintain a lot of the good things that have taken us this far.”

He refused to be drawn on the latest charge or whether it came as a surprise, but did respond when asked if he would talk to his players about it, saying: “Anything that we can do to improve, we will always have conversations with our players and staff to see what we can do better (and if) we have to change any behaviour.”

Scotland v Ukraine – UEFA Nations League – Group 1 – Hampden Park
Mykhailo Mudryk (second left) is a transfer target for Arsenal (Steve Welsh/PA)

Arteta admitted the club are “trying to improve” the squad in the January window but would not speak about Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhailo Mudryk.

The PA news agency understands a deal for the 22-year-old is now close, with Arteta adding: “You know we cannot talk about any other players.

“There are some interests in what we’d like to do to improve the team because we’re short in certain areas and with injuries that we picked up. We are trying and as a club we are trying to improve in every window.”

Arteta also revealed Gabriel Jesus is still “far” from returning to action having undergone surgery on a knee injury suffered at the World Cup.

The Brazil forward has posted on Instagram recently images of him disposing of a knee brace and a pair of crutches.

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Arteta, however, does not expect him back any time soon.

“He’s progressing really well, he’s working really hard, he’s in the right place in terms of the time that we set for him, but he’s still a bit far,” he said.

“I’d like to see him very quickly but I don’t think it’s going happen. We’re going to have to be patient with that one.

“But let’s see. It’s a complicated surgery, in any surgery there are always a lot of things where you have to be cautious. He’s a player that’s going to push to be really fast on the pitch.”

Arsenal players surround referee Andrew Madley
Arsenal players surrounded referee Andrew Madley as they appealed for a handball (Adam Davy/PA)

On Friday afternoon, the Football Association announced Arsenal had been fined £40,000 for failing to ensure their players conducted
themselves in an orderly fashion during their goalless Premier League draw with Newcastle.

The charge related to an incident in the fifth minute of stoppage time when a number of Arsenal players surrounded referee Andrew Madley to claim a penalty for a possible handball.

Madley, who issued nine yellow cards in what became a fractious and scrappy encounter at the Emirates Stadium, dismissed their appeals.

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A statement from the FA read: “Arsenal FC has been fined £40,000 for breaching FA Rule E20.1 during its Premier League fixture against Newcastle United FC on Tuesday 3 January 2023.

“Arsenal FC admitted that it failed to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during the 95th minute. An independent Regulatory Commission imposed the club’s sanction during a subsequent hearing.”

The Gunners also face a separate charge from the FA for failing to control their players during the FA Cup third-round win at Oxford.