We won’t let anybody damage our name – Mikel Arteta hits back at Arsenal critics

The Gunners boss is hopeful Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final tie with Liverpool will go ahead.

By Press Association Published: 19 January 2022 - 4.15pm

Mikel Arteta has defended Arsenal’s decision to successfully apply for Sunday’s Premier League match with Tottenham to be postponed and insisted they made the request for all the right reasons.

The Spaniard revealed the Gunners still have “issues” but is hopeful they will be able to host Liverpool on Thursday in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at the Emirates.

Arsenal’s decision to get the north London derby postponed was met with anger by rivals Tottenham, who expressed their surprise at the fixture being rearranged.

Martin Odegaard was the only known Covid-19 case in the Gunners squad but they were without a plethora of players due to international duty, suspension and injuries which saw them unable to raise a squad of 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper, hitting the Premier League’s criteria for a game to be off.

Arteta said: “We didn’t have the players necessary to put out a squad available to compete in a Premier League match, that is 100 per cent guaranteed but this is a no-win situation.

“When we play the first three games of the season, when other teams were postponing matches, we were killed and told don’t be naive because if you have that many players out don’t play with your kids.

“Now we postpone the match for all the right reasons, believe me, and we get this reaction but I think it is normal.”

Arsenal lost their opening three Premier League fixtures amid a Covid-19 outbreak at the club.

Sunday’s scheduled game with Spurs was the first time the Gunners had requested a match to be off and Arteta hit back at external criticism, with Tottenham boss Antonio Conte expressing his bemusement at the situation during his press conference on Tuesday.

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte was not impressed with Arsenal at the weekend (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“We will defend our clubs with teeth and nails. We will not let anybody damage our name or try to lie about things,” the former Arsenal captain insisted.

“When a team have come to us and said we cannot play, these are the reasons and the game has been postponed, we have never ever publicly questioned any of that.

“And we will not because that is why we have the Premier League, the FA and regulators to consider, find out and do the necessary due diligence, which is a lot, to postpone a match.

“We have been very consistent. We played against (Nottingham) Forest when we had 10 players out. We try to play the next game and the next game.

“We went to Liverpool and had many players out therefore it got to a point where we could not put a squad available, as the numbers required in this league, to play a game. That is why we didn’t play, as simple as that.”

Arteta was coy over the state of the Arsenal squad for Thursday’s second leg with Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta
Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta meet again on Thursday (Paul Childs/NMC Pool)