'I am so proud to call them my players' – Mikel Arteta upbeat after Arsenal defeat

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta applauds his team's fans after the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal on 4 February, 2023 at Goodison Park in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
(Image credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta remained full of pride for his Arsenal (opens in new tab) players following Saturday's defeat to Everton (opens in new tab), stating that he 'loves them even more' than before.

The table-topping Gunners suffered only their second Premier League loss of the season as James Tarkowski's header secured a 1-0 win for the hosts at Goodison Park. 

But Arteta – who admitted that he expected a though test against the Toffees, playing under new boss Sean Dyche for the first time – was keen to stress the importance of showing your players that they're appreciated. Speaking to BT Sport after the match, he said:

"Today, I love them much more than a week ago; a month ago; six months ago... It is easy to be next to someone when they're winning and playing well, but now is the moment to be next to them because they fully deserve it, and I am so proud to call them my players.

However, Arteta emphasised that there's still plenty of work to be done if Arsenal are to hold off Manchester City (opens in new tab) – who they lead by five points and entertain on February 15 – to claim their first title since 2004.

"This is not going to be a rose pathway. This is going to be tricky This is not going to be a rose pathway. This is going to be tricky – difficult – and we're going to have to react to disappointment. We're going to have to dig in and play better than we did today; that's for sure.

Arsenal will look to get back to winning ways when they welcome Brentford (opens in new tab) to the Emirates Stadium next Saturday.

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...