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Mikel Arteta says weaker clubs would have fallen apart under the strain of internal division at Arsenal this season.
And the Gunners boss reckons his biggest achievement has been to root out the trouble-makers and reunite his squad.
Arteta knows he has fallen well short of the club’s top-four target this season.
But a win against Brighton on Sunday could still lift them above Tottenham and qualify them for Europe.
The Arsenal boss said: “The best thing about this season has been to keep everybody together in those circumstances when you are not winning and when there are so many people, some inside and some outside that are trying to hurt.
“To keep them together and block that and be so strong – I think that is some achievement.
“Normally when that happens, that cracks, and everything falls. And it didn’t.”
Arteta spoke earlier this season about having to eliminate a dressing-room mole who was destabilising the club by leaking stories.
Since then, Mesut Ozil, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi have all left, while Sead Kolasinac was loaned to Schalke.
And while Arteta did not name names, he did say the bad apples he is talking about are no longer at the club.
Arteta wants Arsenal’s transfer business done early this summer to avoid a repeat of last year when they failed to shift too many unwanted players.
He said: “That would be ideal to do everything as early as possible. But it’s not going to happen.
“We have the Euros and everything is going to be delayed. There are many things to be done that will take time.
“But we know how key it will be and what we don’t want is what happened last year.”
When Arsenal signed Willian last summer Arteta famously told him the aim was to win the Champions League in three years.
That looks laughable now – but the defiant Gunners boss does not regret it, saying: “There cannot be any other ambition at this football club.
“If we don’t have that we won’t reach it. I have learned that this club is even bigger than I thought and even better than I thought.
“I am prepared to do anything it takes to give the club the most success, joy and a feeling of pride in what we are trying to do. And I won’t stop until I do that.”
- Arsenal FC
- Premier League
- Champions League
- Mesut Ozil
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