Arteta ‘s message to Arsenal fans: ‘Tranquilo’


Mikel Arteta has urged Arsenal fans to remain “tranquilo” about the club’s new-look midfield despite fears they lack sufficient physicality after being beaten 2-0 by Manchester United in New York.

Arteta started new signings Declan Rice and Kai Havertz together alongside Martin Odegaard in a 4-3-3 shape with the club’s third arrival, Jurrien Timber, drifting into central positions from right-back but Arsenal struggled to produce their best.

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Granit Xhaka left the club earlier this summer to join Bayer Leverkusen in a deal which could be worth up to £21 million ($27m) and ahead of their final preseason friendly in the United States against Barcelona in Los Angeles, Arteta played down criticism over his new-look team’s performance.

“We have to find the right balance but a year ago Granit could never play as an attacking midfielder,” he said. “Let’s try to do the work.

“It’s the first time we played with four players inside and three of them had never played together, ever. So: tranquilo.

“Day by day, keep doing the right things and give people the opportunity to settle in and we will be fine.

“You use the word ‘physical’ but if I put Granit and Kai [together] who is more physical? Granit? Yeah? Havertz is 1.91 metres. It depends what physical is.

“Physical is to run, to run in behind, run forward, to tackle, to defend. He will fit in with the qualities we have for sure and the good thing is that we have options in midfield.

“When we want a game to become more physical we have the options to be very, very physical so we have the right options.”

Gabriel Jesus admitted he felt nerves cost Arsenal the Premier League title last season. The Gunners held an eight-point advantage at the beginning of April but won three of their final nine games to finish five points adrift in second place.

“It’s difficult to know but I believe sometimes at the end of the season we were a little bit nervous as a team,” the Brazil striker said.

“They were not nervous as normally they win so that made a difference. This season we have experience of this and it will be different.”

Arteta added in response: “When he talks about that nervousness, insecurity or uncertainty I think that is related to a lot of key moments that happened, especially in the three consecutive draws we had [against Liverpool, West Ham United and Southampton].

“That created that little bit of doubt as we then had more urgency to win and it gave city a big platform to build momentum. One thing really affected the other and that had a really important effect on the outcome of the championship.”


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