Mikel Arteta points finger of blame at Arsene Wenger for Arsenal's decline

Mike Arteta claims Arsenal’s decline started five years ago – and insisted he is still the manager to turn things around.

Arsenal will stick with Arteta into next season and back him in the transfer market this summer to help rebuild after failing to reach Europe for the first time in 25 years and are on course to finish mid-table.

But Arteta has warned it was always going to be a long term rebuilding job because they started falling behind from when they started finishing outside of the Champions League places under previous boss Arsene Wenger.

Gunners manager Arteta said: “We have not been competing with the top clubs in this country for five years.

“It is not as if this process started six months ago – it started five years ago and you can see this trend.

“I understand those concerns because when you are out of the Champions League for five years it is not just a casualty, it’s a trend.

Mikel Arteta during Arsenal's loss to Villarreal
Mikel Arteta during Arsenal’s loss to Villarreal

“This year is not year one. I think a project has its phases and I am telling you we are in a much better position today to be where we want to be very soon, if we do what we have to do.

“But we have to be ruthless. There is no time to waste and there is a lot to do.

“What I felt was a deep pain because where this club is at the moment, with everything it has been through over the last months, I had a feeling that if we could take the team to the final, it could be a great turning point.

“I know that we have disappointed a lot of people as well, and that really hurts because we want to give the best to everybody, but one thing I made clear is that to do what we want to do, I have no doubts that we are going to achieve it.

“If not, I wouldn’t be sat here.”

But Arteta insisted that he can turn things around – and also promised to deliver and repay the fans’ faith in him and the players as they have largely been supportive up until Arsenal’s Europa League exit to Villarreal.

Arteta added: “They have been incredible with the team and incredible with me since I arrived and I have to show my appreciation first of all. I know their disappointment. We are here to give them joy, to give them moments where they can feel proud of what we do.

“We were able to do that last season and we haven’t this season. We are the ones who have to give them something to cheer about.

“I think it is our moment to do something for them.”

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