Soccer

Arsenal are in a relegation dogfight admits Arteta before crunch Chelsea visit

Mikel Arteta has admitted that his side have been dragged into a relegation battle.

Arsenal sit 15th in the table after 14 fixtures having only won one of their last 10 Premier League outings after what was a postive start to the new campaign.

The Gunners won three of their opening four matches but are now only four points ahead of 18th placed Fulham before their London derby against Chelsea on Boxing Day.

Their Spanish boss has now agreed with new West Brom manager Sam Allardyce that Arsenal can not consider themselves as safe from relegation despite their expensive playing squad.

When asked if his players are in a dogfight to avoid relegation, Arteta said: “Yes, absolutely.”

After he had declared: “The next seven or eight days are going to be crucial to where we’re heading to in the Premier League. We have a crucial week, we have to stand up and we have to pick up points.”

Arteta’s response came after West Brom boss Allardyce insisted that the Gunners had been dragged into the battle at the bottom after a terrible run of domestic form.

The Spaniard added: “It’s been us that have let ourselves down and it is down to us to change it.

“I have to protect my players and I will keep doing it.

“When I see they are really trying and they are trying to do the best thing and then mistakes, errors, whatever happens, I will support them to the last day — this is the way I have to do it.

“They have to play on the pitch, they have to put in the performances and we are here to help them as much as possible.

“We have to accept that, at the moment, it is nowhere near enough.”

Allardyce had said: “They haven’t won a Premier League game for almost double figures [winless in seven].

“Getting beaten last night [against Manchester City], even though not in the Premier League, drains the confidence of Arsenal’s players.”

Before adding: “They will be wondering what has hit them.

“They will be wondering why they are down there. They will be wondering what it takes to get out of that position. I know what it takes. I hope to convince my players to respond to that.”

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