Mikel Arteta has admitted Arsenal “fully deserved” the scathing criticism from Sky pundit Gary Neville.
Manchester United legend Neville and ex- Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher were brutal in their assessment of Arsenal ’s defeat to Liverpool last weekend which leaves Arteta’s whole season hinging on the Europa League.
Neville claimed there was a “mafia” of forward players against the manager, a “disconnect” between players and Arteta and branded other players a “joke” as they had stopped playing for him.
Arteta insisted that his players would have to give their answer on the pitch but offered no excuses after the dismal surrender against Liverpool which effectively ended any realistic hope of getting into Europe next season by their league position.
Gunners boss Arteta said: “I think we have to respect every opinion and when there is criticism coming after the way we played against Liverpool, we have to take it on the chin because it’s fully deserved for the way that we played.
“It’s no time to respond, it’s time to talk on the pitch and show what we can do. When we are at full gas, that is a lot.
“Listen, I don’t read or listen. Obviously, I need to be aware of what has been said.
“The only thing I’m saying is where there is the one from Gary or Jamie or whoever is talking about us, after the performance that we had against Liverpool we have to be mute and we have to perform. That is the only thing that we have to do.
“It’s just about how we take the criticism. It’s not good to get the criticism to feel guilty, because that guilt is going to be changed into fear. It’s about feeling responsible, and that is the key word for me.
“You have to be responsible every day for what you do on that pitch, for the club we represent, and then act and not do too much talking. It’s time for action
“It’s the only way we can do it because it’s about winning matches and being competitive in every competition we are involved in and winning trophies. That’s what we’re here for.”
Top scorer and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been at the forefront of the criticism as he has struggled badly this season and was poor again last weekend. Arsenal legend Emmanuel Petit even likened the club to a retirement home for one last big pay day for ageing players.
But Arteta refused to pin it on individuals and also accepted his share of the blame. “I think the whole team and myself have to put in better performances than we did against Liverpool, that’s for sure,” he said.
“Petit knows the club really well and was here in the most successful years and he has that opinion – I have to change that opinion. I am here to give my valuation of what I see every day and where we are and I know where we are and where we want to go. We have to respect that.”
Arteta also warned they face dangerous opponents as Slavia Prague have already knocked out Rangers and Leicester and are runaway leaders in the Czech League where they have not lost all season.
Arteta added: “We have a really difficult opponent, if you see how they came into this position, they completely merit that. They’ve done it in a really specific way and a really efficient way and it will be a challenge, that’s for sure.”