Nicolas Pepe says Arsenal’s poor form is down to the players, not interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg, who has only been able to record one win from five matches at the helm.
Arsenal suffered their fifth league defeat of the season against Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, slipping down to ninth in the Premier League table in the process.
A Kevin De Bruyne brace and a Raheem Sterling strike secured a comfortable 3-0 win for the visitors , who were able to take their foot off the gas and coast to victory in the second half.
The Gunners are no better off now than when they sacked Unai Emery on November 29, with Ljungberg facing the same issues that the Spaniard faced towards the end of his reign in north London.
Arsenal have become far too reliant on the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette up front, with the defence not up to the required standard and a midfield lacking runners willing to give everything to the cause.
But Pepe insists that Ljungberg is trying hard to affect significant change behind the scenes, with it his belief that the players should be shouldering the blame for Arsenal’s continued struggles.
“Freddie tries hard, he talks to us, but nothing has changed much in terms of results. It’s down to us the players, not the coach,” Pepe said after the Gunners’ latest Premier League setback.
“Freddie is close to us because he used to be a player not long ago. He knows what we feel so it’s easier for us to talk with him. We will continue to work hard to make things better and win again.
“We are not disturbed by the managerial situation. I had a similar situation in Lille [who had five different head coaches in 2017] and we kept going. With hard work, it will get better with Freddie or someone else.”
Arsenal must now look ahead to a tough trip to Goodison Park on Saturday, where they will come up against a resurgent Everton side buoyed from a win over Chelsea and a draw at Manchester United under caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson.
“Us players have to do better quickly,” Pepe added. “We have won only one game out of the last 12. It is not enough, we are Arsenal.
“It is about us, not the coach or anything else. We have to wake up quickly, starting against Everton.”
It has been suggested that Ljungberg could be handed a permanent contract if he impresses during temporary charge, but in the meantime, Arsenal are considering alternative options.
Goal understands that the club are eager to sit down for talks with Carlo Ancelotti , who was relieved of his duties at Napoli last week and is now on the lookout for his next post.
City assistant Mikel Arteta is also thought to be in the running after holding a meeting with Arsenal managing director Vinai Venkatesham at his Didsbury residence in the early hours of Monday morning .