Mikel Arteta suggests he will get rid of any Arsenal player not willing to fight for Premier League survival

Asked if he felt he had enough fighters among his ranks, Arteta added: “Yes we do.

“But some of them can doubt in any moment because when you find yourself in this situation you are tempted to go to the other side and start to say ‘Oh, we are scoring own goals, we cannot play with 10 men, then we don’t have the crowd and the referee made these decisions’. I’m sorry but we don’t need any of those.

“There are people who are very contagious and can transmit a certain level of energy. When you have a lot of them it’s very easy.

“You always have some on one side, some in the middle and some completely on board. Then you have to drag as many people as you want into your side, to the fighting side.

“And the ones who are not interested or cannot do it, they have to stay behind because if not they are dragging you back.”

One player who has received flak recently is club-record signing Nicolas Pepe.

He scored the equaliser from the penalty spot in the loss at Everton but was highlighted for criticism by Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer later in the day.

The Ivory Coast winger has shone in the Europa League this season and, even though he continues to flatter to deceive domestically, he retains the backing of Arteta.

“I would always defend my players,” he said.

“Whatever I have to discuss with him, it will be internally. Pepe wants to do his best and help as much as he possibly can. This is what I am interested in. It is my job and if he doesn’t, it is my fault.

“He is trying his best. We all know Nico and sometimes his body language makes him feel bad. He is hurting, he is suffering – believe me, I am close to him – and he is trying his best.

“He feels the responsibility because be knows why the club brought him here and he wants to deliver that.”

PA

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