UNDER-FIRE Mikel Arteta says Arsenal must spend big — before the gap to the top sides becomes “almost impossible” to bridge.
And the Gunners boss believes owner Stan Kroenke WILL provide a significant war chest this summer to try to stop the rot.
Mikel Arteta has begged for transfer funds before Arsenal fall too far behind leading clubsCredit: Getty
Arteta admits it could become ‘almost impossible’ to bridge the gap without significant spendingCredit: Getty
Mid-table Arsenal are way off the pace again and Arteta said: “Time is catching up right now.
“It’s a trend, it’s years now that this has been happening.
“If the distance and the margins with the rest becomes too big, then it’s almost impossible to do it.
“I think we are still on time and we have put some very strong pillars and foundations in the last few months to do what we have to do.
“We are in the right place to do it — and we have to do it.
“The squad needs changing. There were already a lot of changes in December, something that has not been done in years, but it tells us where we were.
“Things have to change and the owners are going to back it up.”
When asked if that meant Arsenal would have a sizeable budget this summer, Arteta nodded.
It remains to be seen if Stan Kroenke is ready to dig deep into his pocketsCredit: Getty
There will also be questions about whether Arteta can be trusted to spend the funds correctlyCredit: Getty
But it remains to be seen whether American Kroenke will stump up a big bundle of cash and whether Arteta will be trusted to spend it.
The Spaniard is now the bookies’ favourite to be the next Premier League boss to leave his job after the Gunners crashed out of the Europa League with a whimper — beaten by ex-manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal.
That has left Arsenal facing up to the prospect of failing to qualify for Europe for the first time in 26 years.
And Arteta says his devastated players must show they care — and not just in the dressing room.
Arsenal are nearing the end of a dismal seasonCredit: Getty
The Gunners were knocked out of Europe by Villarreal on ThursdayCredit: Getty
He said: “I saw how much they care. But how much they care in the dressing room is not what we have to see.
“It’s how much they care when we go on that pitch and how we put it right.
“We need to win the four games and see where that takes us in the table.
“We need to see a strong reaction again on Sunday.
Arsenal sit mid-table with just four games remainingCredit: Getty
The Gunners are on the verge of missing out on European football for the first time since 1995Credit: Getty
“Results on some occasions, or a lot of occasions, this season haven’t been what we wanted. But I will defend them because they deserve to be defended by me.”
Many Arsenal fans would question the commitment of the players after limp performances in the first half of both legs of their Europa League semi-final.
Gooners protested outside the Emirates before Thursday’s tie — then shouted their displeasure at the team coach as it left.
Arteta and his players are probably fortunate there will be no crowd at today’s home game with West Brom.
But that luck will run out when some fans are allowed in for the final-day visit of Brighton.
Arsenal will be hoping to end their poor season on a highCredit: Getty
Arteta will be feeling the pressure even though Arsenal plan to stick with him this summerCredit: Getty
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He said: “We don’t know how they are going to react.
“They are free to raise their voices. We do our job the best we possibly can and then try to engage them.
“Because they are the soul of this football club, the soul of this sport, and we need them next to the team.”
As for his own future, Arteta said: “I’m honoured and I feel I could not be anywhere else better than here.”
ARSENAL (likely): Leno; Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Elneny; Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli; Aubameyang.