Football

Mikel Arteta has improved Arsenal despite early struggles: Mesut Oezil

Arsenal have won just three matches since Mikel Arteta took over as manager in December, but playmaker Mesut Oezil said the team have improved thanks to the Spaniard's fresh tactical approach.

Arsenal are 10th in the English Premier League on 31 points, 10 behind fourth-placed Chelsea, but Oezil said the players are still targeting a Champions League qualification spot with 13 games left.

"Mikel has been here just two months and we have improved a lot tactically," Oezil said.

"Everyone knows... in which position they have to play or how (the manager) wants to attack or make a lot of pressure on the opposition.

"We know it is a hard season for us, but we want to win games to be maybe, at the end of the season, in the top four. Our goal is to be in the Champions League."

Arteta, who took over from interim coach Freddie Ljungberg, said he hopes to use their mid-season training camp in Dubai to help get his ideas across quicker and ensure results improve in the second half of the campaign.

On his own future at the club, Oezil said he is unsure what will happen when his contract expires next year.

"I don't know what will happen because I can't see the future," the German said.

"What I can do is give everything for the team, for myself, to be successful and let's see what happens in the future."

EMERY HITS BACK

Meanwhile, former Gunners boss Unai Emery said he didn't get enough time to transform the London giants, who were on a "downward slope" when he was appointed.

Emery had 18 months at the Emirates Stadium, after a two-year stint with Paris Saint-Germain and a spell which included winning three straight Europa League titles with Sevilla.

"Arsenal had been on a downward slope for two years when I joined them," Emery told France Football on Monday.

"We stopped the rot and took the club to the Europa League final (where they lost 4-1 to Chelsea) and took fifth place in the EPL," Emery said in defence of his tenure that ended last November.

"We lost our four captains (Laurent) Koscielny, (Petr) Cech, (Aaron) Ramsey and (Nacho) Monreal, and we really missed them.

"Some of our top players didn't have the right attitude and were asking for more than they were giving.

"I needed more time to transform this club into the new Arsenal I had been hoping to build." - REUTERS, AFP

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