Under-pressure Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says the only way the struggling Gunners are going to turn their season around is if his players show they are fighters and not victims.
The Spaniard is favourite to be the next Premier League manager to be fired as the warm glow of FA Cup success last season has evaporated fast.
Arsenal are 15th in the table and without a Premier League win since November 1. They have accrued just two points in the last seven games and are only four points above the relegation zone.
The only respite for Arteta — who has been in the post for just over a year — has come in the cup competitions.
They are through to the knockout rounds of the Europa League and on Tuesday they face Manchester City — where he cut his coaching teeth as assistant to Pep Guardiola — in the League Cup quarter-finals.
“You have two types of people: fighters and victims,” said Arteta. “You need fighters and you don’t want any victims.
“Victims bring excuses, victims bring negativity and they start to blame anything that is happening around them or is not going their way.
“You need people who fight, people who contribute and people who are ready to give everything to the club in this moment.”
– ‘One step closer’ –
Arteta says he ignores what is written about him and the club, insisting that all that matters is the feeling within the club — and there, he claims, it is a wholly supportive atmosphere.
“Obviously a club of this stature deserves the best and when it is not happening, everyone is going to question what is happening,” he said.
“I am the most responsible one in terms of results, so I have to accept that.”
Arteta said the quarter-final against the holders provides a welcome distraction from their underwhelming league campaign.
“This is what we want to use it for (a distraction), as well as a competition we want to try to win,” said Arteta.
“We have two difficult opponents before in Leicester and Liverpool, we managed to beat them both and now we are playing at home and we are one step closer to Wembley.
“So it is a really nice game to play, as this is the type of game we are looking for through the season.”
However, he admits winning the trophy would not be sufficient to counter-balance a poor Premier League campaign.
“It’s not enough, isolating just one competition,” said Arteta. “We have a really nice opportunity because we’ve done really well in the competition this year and tomorrow’s game is another step forward to be closer to winning another trophy.
“But this doesn’t mean that it’s going to reflect on the rest or it’s going to look better because at the moment — whatever happens in any other competition — in the Premier League we’re nowhere near where we should be.”