Arteta backs Havertz display amid fan complaints

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Mikel Arteta has backed Kai Havertz to win over Arsenal supporters after another subdued showing in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Fulham.

The £67.5 million summer signing from Chelsea had the fewest touches (22) of any Arsenal outfield player in the first half and was substituted on 56 minutes with his side trailing 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

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Arteta’s side responded to Andreas Pereira‘s first-minute strike with two goals in three minutes. Bukayo Saka equalised with a penalty and substitute Eddie Nketiah put Arsenal ahead before Calvin Bassey was sent off for Fulham with seven minutes remaining.

However, João Palhinha‘s 88th-minute strike salvaged a point for the visitors but Arteta played down what appeared to be frustration from the home fans directed at Havertz’s ineffective display — notably when losing the ball shortly before his substitution.

“I saw an action when he played backwards and he could have turned,” Arteta told reporters.

“That’s more I think the demands of everybody to play forward and to impact the game in the final third because we had the urgency to win.”

Pushed on whether Havertz — without a goal or assist in three appearances to date — would gain the support of the Arsenal fans, Arteta replied: “Yes I think so. I think he’s done already really good things.

“Today it was tough in certain moments. He got in great areas and the ball didn’t arrive. In a lot of situations he should have scored a lot of goals already this season. That’s the thing that is missing there.”

Arteta insisted his side did enough to win the game despite a disjointed performance and the concession of two poor goals.

“The way the team played, the way the team generates, any other sport you win by 100 points difference,” he added. “But this is football, we draw and we conceded two very, very poor goals today. That’s the difference. In the Premier League when you give something else you’re going to get punished. We were today.

“The subs made a huge difference, great impact, I loved the determination and the confidence that they brought to the team. We made the most difficult thing, go 2-1 up. Then you have to defend the box with your life, you cannot concede a goal after everything we did. We should have scored five, six, seven, I don’t know.”

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