‘I love my players more’: Mikel Arteta responds to Arsenal’s defeat at Everton

Mikel Arteta reacted to defeat to Everton by telling his Arsenal players he loved them more than before.

The leaders suffered their first defeat in 14 league games as Everton triumphed in Sean Dyche’s debut as manager, thanks to a James Tarkowski goal.

But Arteta responded by underlining his affection for the Arsenal squad who had taken 50 points from the first half of the season.

He said: “I want the team to know how much I love them. I love them much more now than three hours ago, a week ago, a month ago, three months ago.

“It’s very easy to be next to the players when they’re winning and performing. These are the moments when I love my players more and my staff more and we’re going to stay together.

“This journey is going to be difficult and challenging and there’s going to be big stones in the middle and we have to overcome that. I’m so proud to coach these players.”

Arteta accepted Everton were deserving winners, adding: “Everton were really good and we have to congratulate them first. They made it difficult [for Arsenal] to win the game because they were really efficient. We needed to do more to win the game.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“Of course there is disappointment. We knew this was going to be a real test for us. We had a lot of control in periods but we struggled.”

Dyche was delighted with the work ethic his players displayed and how they adapted to his demands.

He said: “It’s all about the players and they are the focal point for me. They have taken a lot on this week. The minimum requirement is maximum effort and we saw that today. It gives us a platform to move forward.”