Arteta needs cup respite as he challenges senior stars to step up


n the past, the Carabao Cup was a breeding ground for Arsenal’s youngsters and a chance for the manager to rest and rotate his squad.

That is not the case on Wednesday night however as Mikel Arteta heads to The Hawthorns needing a win to ease some of the pressure on his shoulders.

It has been a miserable start to the season for Arsenal, with back-to-back losses coinciding with no goals scored, and already supporters are airing their grievances.

They booed the team off at Emirates Stadium on Sunday following the defeat to Chelsea, while after the game a video went viral on social media showing fans surrounding Arteta’s car and telling him to leave the club.

“We have done a lot of work, we are under difficult circumstances at the moment, but we need everybody together and the spirit to be fair around here,” said Arteta.

“The togetherness that we have around the team, and even with the ownership, it’s really strong, but we need to give our fans and probably the outside world some encouragement, and that’s only given with results, so we need to get results.”

That hunger for a result is why Arteta is expected to name a strong side against West Brom on Wednesday night. Aaron Ramsdale is in line to make his debut in goal, while Martin Odegaard is free to play after getting visa clearance following his £30million move from Real Madrid.

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who both contracted Covid-19 earlier this month, trained on Tuesday and are also likely to feature.

“That’s really good news because we really need them,” said Arteta. “They are so both so important to us, as they are able to put that ball in the net. We need them firing, we need them at their best and the team has to help them to deliver that.”

Mikel Arteta has come under increasing pressure after Arsenal’s woeful start to the new season

/ Arsenal FC via Getty Images

A win over West Brom in the second round of the Carabao Cup is hardly going to earn Arteta much praise, but it will at least quieten the noise surrounding him in a week where speculation about how long he has to turn things around ramped up.

Defeat to West Brom would only add fuel to that fire and, with a trip to Manchester City to come on Saturday, it would also leave Arsenal staring down the barrel of no wins before next week’s first international break of the campaign.

“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,” said Arteta.

“We all want to make it as quick as possible and we know that the responsibility for us it to fight with the top teams in every competition and that’s not going to change.”

Arteta has the support of the Arsenal hierarchy right now, not least because they are aware of the issues the squad have already faced this season.

A Covid-19 outbreak on the eve of their opening game against Brentford sidelined star strikers Aubameyang and Lacazette, while there is also an acceptance that Arteta hasn’t had time to field his new signings yet.

The situation has forced young players to step up and, like last season, they have been the only real shining light so far.

Albert Sambi Lokonga, who was signed from Anderlecht in the summer, is just 21 but in the first two games he has been the standout performer. That is all well and good, but Arteta now wants senior players to rise to the challenge, too.

“The ones that are going to determine our success and who have to lead our success are the senior players,” said Arteta.

“These are the ones who have to drive everybody else and then our young players and our development players, they have to be adding to that.

“They have that responsibility and hopefully, when we have all the players back fit and healthy, they will be the drivers of that and the leaders of that.”

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