Arsenal players have faith they will qualify for next season’s Champions League after the appointment of new head coach Mikel Arteta, according to Bernd Leno.
The Gunners have been victorious in only one of their last 13 matches in all competitions, with a drab 0-0 draw at Everton on Saturday leaving them nine points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
The stalemate at Goodison Park was interim manager Freddie Ljungberg’s last game in charge of the side before handing the reins to Arteta.
The 37-year-old was brought in to replace Unai Emery, who was sacked in late November. The latter oversaw a frustrating start to the 2019/20 Premier League campaign, with Ljungberg failing to stop the rot during his six-match stint at the Arsenal helm.
Despite their struggles in recent months, goalkeeper Leno is adamant the Gunners can turn things around. When asked by the Evening Standard if Arteta could guide them to a top four finish, the German replied: “Of course, because there are still many games.
“We play against all the top six. We have a lot of opportunities to win against them. We still believe. It is in our hands. We have to show [the right] mentality. We have to play good football, and I think we will have opportunities.
“When we just speak about tactics or quality or what was in the past, it doesn’t matter. If we work hard, get back our strong mentality, then I am confident we can reach our target.”
Leno then revealed what Arteta had said to the Gunners squad in the dressing room following the draw at Goodison, explaining: “He didn’t speak too much about quality or about tactics.
“He just said he wants to see players who run, who support their team-mates, who defend the goal, play as a team. I think this was our main problem. We played this season some good games, like this, but many games we were not good enough on this point.
“I think this is the way he needs to push us. We understood the message. We didn’t let [Everton] have any transitions and the distances [between our defenders and their attackers] were much closer.
“This is the only way to play, because the Premier League is too strong to have one, two or three players that don’t defend.