Mikel Arteta has admitted turning Arsenal’s fortunes around will “take some time” and urged supporters to get behind the team when they travel to West Brom in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night before facing champions Manchester City on Saturday.
The 2-0 home defeat against Chelsea at the weekend left Arsenal without a point or goal from their opening two Premier League matches to increase the pressure on Arteta after failing to qualify for European competition last season. That meant Arsenal must enter the League Cup at the second round stage for the first time since beating Hartlepool 8-0 over two legs in 1995 as they seek to progress in a competition they last won two years earlier.
After a disappointing performance in the opening day defeat at newly-promoted Brentford, Arteta has since added £34m signing Martin Ødegaard to his attacking options on a permanent deal but stressed the need for fans to show patience with a young squad.
“I know they are disappointed when you lose at home, there has to be some reaction, but this is a project that is going to take some time,” he told Arsenal.com.
“You can see and tell from the recruitment that we’ve done and the really young squad that we have at the moment and it cannot happen overnight. We all want to make it as quick as possible and we know that the responsibility for us is to fight with the top teams in every competition and that’s not going to change, and I think we really need them and this group of players really needs them and the club needs them now next to us because we need that confidence, that support and that energy.”
Ødegaard and Alexandre Lacazette are available for the trip to face West Brom, with the Norway playmaker having received full clearance to play following his transfer from Real Madrid and Lacazette back in full training following his positive Covid-19 test. Summer signing Ben White also tested positive ahead of the Chelsea match and will not be available.
“The approach is to win the game and go to the next round,” Arteta added. “To try to get players back if possible to help us because then we have Manchester City at the weekend, and to try to lift the players. Obviously they are hurt, the feeling is tough at the moment, they need some help as well with players coming back, and keep them together, because the spirit there is good.
“They don’t need motivating. Honestly, they are really together, one thing they don’t need is motivating. That is really clear, they are really trying what they can do. Give them confidence – that is what they need.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal are hoping that Willian will accept a proposal from former club Corinthians that would see the former Chelsea forward leave on a free transfer. A contract until 2023 or 2024 has been proposed, with talks ongoing over whether Arsenal would continue to pay some of the 33-year-old’s salary worth an estimated £200,000 a week. Willian is understood to prefer a move to a European club but may now consider a return to Brazil after 14 years away.