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FA Cup fifth round draw

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Real Madrid

Arteta: Players to blame, not Wenger

Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta insists individual mistakes on the field and not the guidance of under-fire manager Arsene Wenger are to blame for the Gunners' setbacks in recent days.

• Blog: Cazorla lifeline

A passionate Arteta has admitted that the nervous tension rippling through Arsene Wenger's side has contributed to the individual errors that have proved costly this season, with the words of the Spaniard likely to resonate in a dressing room that has been accused of lacking leaders over the last week.

After sitting alongside Wenger during his now infamous press conference rant at reporters last Monday, Arteta has picked his moment to contribute to the ongoing Arsenal debate by confirming he is as exasperated as the club's fans by the team's recent woes that included an FA Cup defeat against Blackburn and a Champions League humbling against Bayern Munich.

"I don't know if it's nerves, but when things aren't going in your direction, like the Blackburn game, you analyse the stats of the game, it's absolutely amazing that we haven't won the game," he told the Arsenal website.

"If you see the result and people are watching at home and see that Arsenal lost at home against Blackburn and are out of the FA Cup, it's a disaster. But if you analyse how they won the game, it's unbelievable and it seems to happen to us. That's what we have to improve.

"Sometimes (mistakes come from) a bit of a lack of concentration. Or if a team-mate makes a mistake, the second one cannot be a mistake again. It seems to happen. For every small detail, the other teams are taking advantage and it's costing us a lot of points.

"Something good that we've got here is that we don't look at the other one and say 'look what you've done'. If someone makes a mistake, the team makes a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes during the game and you can't fault a player for that.

"If it's a lack of attitude, yes. I'm the first one to get him by the neck, because we can't accept that. If it's a mistake when you take a risk, that can happen."

Arteta has praised the contribution of compatriot Santi Cazorla, whose two goals in Saturday's 2-1 win lifted the pressure that had descended on Wenger and his team,

"I think he's been outstanding," Arteta said. "He's played almost every game and is probably the only one to do that. The way he plays, he takes a lot of knocks and plays a demanding game physically as well.

"To adapt to the Premier League in his first year and do what he's doing, I think we have to clap him. He's a player that can make the difference with his ability. I think Jack is another one of them that has something special that can decide a game or can unlock a door when the game is really tight. For us, they are very important players."


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