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Mikel Arteta eager for Arsenal project to go ‘bang’ following Covid-19 pandemic

Mikel Arteta believes his Arsenal project is set to explode into life when football returns to normality following the coronavirus pandemic.

The Gunners are languishing in 10th place in the Premier League and saw their defence of the FA Cup end with a fourth-round defeat at Southampton.

Any hopes of silverware and Champions League qualification now all appear to rest on a successful Europa League campaign – with Arsenal preparing for the first leg of their round of 16 tie against Olympiacos on Thursday night.

Arteta delivered the FA Cup and Community Shield in his first eight months in charge of the club but consistency has continued to elude his team and they now sit 12 points off the top four – the same amount they are clear of the relegation zone.

The Spaniard, however, feels the future is bright at the Emirates Stadium and things will start to look up in the coming months.

“I think this project is going to go ‘bang’,” he said.

“This is where we are but sometimes it is difficult to see the moment now but I’m sure where we are going.

“We have created a really strong group, a really strong bond with our players, with our fans, with our staff and that is going to pay big in the future.

“You need to win to convince anybody that you are doing a good job in the club and taking them in the right direction.

“If you are not inside the club every day and know exactly what is going on within the club, the only way to convince anybody is to win.”

While trying to return Arsenal to a winning force on the pitch, Arteta is also at the helm at a challenging time away from it.

Arsenal’s latest financial results were published last week and showed a £47million loss – a figure made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

Arteta tested positive for Covid-19 after losing to Olympiacos at the round of 32 stage of last season’s Europa League – essentially proving the catalyst for the game in England grinding to a halt.

Arsenal have been able to play in front of a total of 4000 supporters at the Emirates Stadium in the past year and Arteta conceded success on the field is essential to bring in more revenue, which in turn can be invested in the squad.

“It’s another big important factor because that gives us the opportunity again to keep our club involved in Europe, in the Europa League or Champions League,” he said when asked how important European qualification was to the amount of money he would be able to spend.

“We know the aim always is to be involved in the Champions League but at the moment things are looking difficult but possible and obviously the financial package that is attached to it for the club at the moment is really, really important.”

Asked how much of a problem the losses could prove come the summer transfer window, Arteta added: “Well we don’t know yet because we have so many things to do.

“We have people on loan, people finishing contracts, there is a lot going on the last two transfer windows, the amount of things to be done was probably unprecedented and it will be again in the summer.

“So we are trying to put a plan together to see with the resources we have how much we want to improve, how we’re going to do it and at what cost and that is just so many factors.

“I want a sustainable club. We all want a club that can be run with their own resources. It is great we have the support from our owners.

“We have had that in the summer when it was much needed because of everything that has happened with Covid and what happened at the club in the last three years without the Champions League and the hit that that took.

“But our responsibility and everything we are planning for the future is for this club to go back to being sustainable on its own and being all the time as strong as possible in every department and the financial department is crucial as well.”

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