PREMIER LEAGUE

Evening Times - - SPORTS -

STEVE NAILOR

MIKEL ARTETA is ready for the chal­lenge af­ter re­turn­ing “home” to Ar­se­nal as their new head coach.

The 37-year-old Spa­niard, a for­mer Ar­se­nal cap­tain, has left his role as as­sis­tant to Pep Guardi­ola at Manch­ester City to agree a three-and-a-hal­fyear con­tract to suc­ceed Unai Emery, who was sacked last month.

At his un­veil­ing late yes­ter­day af­ter­noon at the Emi­rates Sta­dium, Arteta said: “I feel back home. I am ex­tremely happy and proud to have been given the hon­our of be­ing man­ager of this foot­ball club.

“I have pre­pared for the chal­lenge and am ready. If I didn’t feel that, I would not be sit­ting in this chair.

“I have to en­gage the play­ers, when I was here with Man City [for last Sun­day’s Premier League match] ev­ery­one was a bit down.

“We have to have the right cul­ture here. If we don’t then the tree will shake.

“Af­ter that we can talk about other things. We need an im­me­di­ate im­pact and need to raise the level of the per­for­mances to start win­ning games and en­gage with the fans.”

Arteta cited his for­mer boss, City man­ager Guardi­ola, as an in­flu­ence as he set out what is re­quired at Ar­se­nal.

“What I have learned mostly is you have to be ruth­less, con­sis­tent and fit the cul­ture of the club to sus­tain a win­ning men­tal­ity,” he said.

“Ev­ery act is im­por­tant. Pep’s work-rate is in­cred­i­ble. The staff have to be able to trans­mit it and when [the play­ers] buy into that, you can be strong.”

Arteta played more than 100 times for Ar­se­nal – his fi­nal club be­fore re­tir­ing. He joined City’s coach­ing staff in 2016 and will now em­bark on his first man­age­rial post at his old club.

Sun­day’s 3-0 de­feat to City in­creased the need for the club to end the un­cer­tainty over the man­ager’s po­si­tion, leav­ing the club as close to the rel­e­ga­tion zone as they are to the top four.

In­terim head coach Fred­die Ljung­berg re­placed Emery but won just one of his four league games at the helm, while the club are on a run of only one win from their last 12 fix­tures.

When Arteta’s old side City beat Ar­se­nal at the week­end, the for­mer Everton mid­fielder was in the dugout along­side Guardi­ola.

Talks started af­ter­wards with Ar­se­nal man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Vi­nai Venkate­sham pic­tured out­side Arteta’s house in the early hours of Mon­day morn­ing.

Arteta re­vealed he came “very close” to the Ar­se­nal job fol­low­ing Arsene Wenger’s de­par­ture in 2018, but said it was not the right time for him to take it on.

The Spa­niard added: “I want to do things my way by con­vinc­ing them it is the right way for ev­ery­body to live bet­ter.

“Ev­ery­body has to be re­spon­si­ble and I do not want them hid­ing, I want peo­ple who de­liver pas­sion and en­ergy.

“Any­one who does not buy into this, has a neg­a­tive ef­fect, is not good enough for this en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture.”

Arteta ac­cepted his in­ex­pe­ri­ence could be a prob­lem for some fans, but said: “I will give ev­ery drop of blood for this foot­ball club to make it bet­ter.”

He also in­sisted Me­sut Ozil was still “a mas­sive player for this foot­ball club”.

Head of foot­ball Raul San­llehi said the club had in­ter­viewed other names be­fore opt­ing to pur­sue Arteta.

“We met sev­eral top-class can­di­dates and Mikel stood out to ev­ery sin­gle one of us as the per­fect per­son for us,” he said in a club state­ment.

“Mikel un­der­stands Ar­se­nal Foot­ball Club and what it means to our fans.”

Mikel Arteta at his un­veil­ing as Ar­se­nal man­ager yes­ter­day

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