Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has backed former colleague Mikel Arteta to turn things around at Arsenal following the Gunners’ worst start to a league campaign.
Ten-man Arsenal fell to a 5-0 defeat to City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to make it three losses in a row without scoring to begin their Premier League season.
The Gunners are only the second team in Premier League history to have zero points and a goal difference of minus nine from their first three games, after Wolves in 2003-04.
Wolves finished bottom of the table that season, and that is the position Arsenal found themselves in following their latest humiliating league loss at the hands of City.
Arteta is under increasing pressure heading into the first international break of 2021-22, but Guardiola is confident results will improve for Arsenal once their injury list clears up.
Guardiola, who worked alongside Arteta for three years at the Etihad Stadium before his compatriot took on the Arsenal job, told BBC Sport: “Mikel knows I love him.
“In the two or three years he was here he was important to what we built. People want results right away, of course.
“But many of the players they invested in, like Ben White and Thomas Partey, were missing today. Without those players it is difficult.
“I know his awareness as a manager and as a leader. The moment everyone is back he will do an excellent job. I know this because I know him, I know the job he can do.
“I’m not talking as a friend I’m talking as a professional. Working alongside him I learned a lot. He taught me many things. The team we are now is because of what he’s done.
“I don’t have any doubts. He can have a good results, bad results, my opinion about Mikel is beyond what people can imagine. I’m pretty sure he’ll be back on track.”
Not since 1954-55 have Arsenal lost their first three league games of the season, but Arteta is hopeful of still being in charge for the visit of Norwich City on September 11.
“For me it is pride and more willingness to change the situation,” he told BBC Sport. “A lot has happened in the last three weeks we are in a difficult position.
“The international break will do us some good to recover some of the big players we are missing at the moment and hopefully we come back we are in a better place.”
Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres scored from City’s first two shots of the match in the opening 12 minutes of the one-sided contest, before Granit Xhaka was issued his fourth Premier League red card for a reckless lunge on Joao Cancelo.
Gabriel Jesus and Rodri registered either side of half-time and Torres rounded off the scoring with his second goal late on to make it three straight 5-0 home league wins for City.
Arsenal’s best spell came in the opening five minutes, but they registered just one shot in total – their lowest tally in a league match since 2003-04 (when Opta started recording shot data).
Both those early goals came as a result of some shambolic defending from Arsenal, but Arteta has questioned VAR’s decision to let Torres’ tap-in stand due to a foul on Calum Chambers in the build-up.
“The first goal was the most disappointing as we were in control of the game until then,” Arteta said. “We took the game exactly where we wanted to.
“The first action they have, we fail to stop the cross and Gundogan has a free header in the middle of goal. These are the basics you have to do right.
“The second goal we concede is a clear foul because Calum is punched in the face. Once we conceded after the red card you know what is going to happen.
“It’s a really quick action from Xhaka. He tries to get his feet off the ground and the ref decided it was a red card.”
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