Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed the most “painful” part of being a manager and recalls the moment he knew the fans were on his side.
The Gunners have been in outstanding form this season, winning 11 of their 13 Premier League matches so far with their one defeat coming to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Those results mean they are top of the Premier League table and two points ahead of defending champions Manchester City, while they also cruised through their Europa League group as winners.
There were doubts over whether Arteta would be a success after narrowly missing out on the top four last season to arch-rivals Tottenham.
But the Spaniard – who is in his first management job – has come roaring back this season with victory at Wolves on Saturday guaranteeing Arsenal top spot on Christmas Day.
Arteta worked as assistant manager to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City but he was unprepared for the “painful” task of dropping players from the starting XI.
The Arsenal boss told Sky Sports: “You’re telling them you are not able to do your profession. I’m taking [away] the nicest part of the week, which is the weekends or the midweek game. It’s painful. The way I’ve learned my profession and the way I was as a player, I think it’s much better to tell them straight and give them the reasons why.”
In his 109th game as Arsenal boss – a 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium – Arteta could feel the fans buying into the project.
Arteta added: “I look at it and I have goosebumps. This feeling because look at the stadium, it’s completely different. I said it many times the support that we’ve got, the connection and the unity that we have at the club and what these people that are right behind the team have done for the club, it’s incredible.
“We wouldn’t be able to do without them. I’m sure of that. The team made it a very special day for them and a great one to just spend with them for sure.”
Arteta continued: “It has taken some decisions and some fights and some moments where you have doubts about yourself and about whether this is going to work out.
“You play against Norwich at home and you say ‘well we need to get this one out of the way after losing three’ – you are under pressure and you have to deliver.
“I have a lot of people, more and more especially from other sports that I can call on in those times.”
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