Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Picture: REUTERS/PHIL NOBLE
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Picture: REUTERS/PHIL NOBLE

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta leapt to the defence of the club’s money men on Tuesday after fans flew a banner over Villa Park saying “Back Arteta, Kroenke Out”.

A 1-0 defeat by relegation battlers Aston Villa left Arsenal down in 10th place in the Premier League and facing their worst finish since 1995 when they were 12th.

While there have been encouraging signs of progress since former skipper Arteta took over in December, not least back-to-back wins last week over Liverpool in the league and Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinal, the need for strengthening the squad is obvious if Arsenal are to challenge for the top four.

American billionaire owner Stan Kroenke has come under fire from Arsenal fans for a lack of adventure in the transfer market.

“I have full support from the Kroenkes, from the board, from the sporting director,” Arteta told a news conference. “We are putting a very strong plan together to try to do as much as we can in the shortest period.

“At the end of the day the league table doesn’t lie and we know the gap we have to fill in. We are on board trying to do everything together.”

Arteta was asked whether comments he made after the victory over Liverpool had prompted the aeroplane stunt. After that game, he said it was a “concern” whether or not he would be given sufficient transfer funds to strengthen.

“I don’t know but if that’s the impression it’s not what I wanted to do,” the Spaniard said. “I wanted to emphasise — and I’d do it again — we need to improve in many areas.

“The first is my responsibility to improve the team, individually and the mentality of course as well. After that in certain areas we need to get better.

“Uncertainty is the reality. We have uncertainty because the coronavirus hit everybody hard, we don’t know if we are finishing in Europe and there is uncertainty with a few players. I have to try to be honest and that’s what I said.” 

Reuters

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