Mikel Arteta will not be too hard on Arsenal youngsters amid concerning slump

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta plans to provide his young players with “all the support in the world” in a bid to revive the club’s faltering quest for Champions League qualification.

The Gunners were favourites to claim fourth spot in the Premier League just a month ago before suffering a damaging four defeats from five games.

Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Southampton was a third in a row for Arteta’s men as they missed the chance to capitalise on Tottenham’s shock home defeat to Brighton.

Jan Bednarek
Jan Bednarek scored Southampton’s winner against Arsenal (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

Arsenal, whose starting XI at St Mary’s contained nine players aged 24 or under, have another opportunity to move level on points with Spurs on Wednesday evening when they play their game in hand away to Chelsea.

While Arteta has been understandably frustrated by the untimely slump, he intends to maintain an encouraging approach, rather than attempt to berate his squad back into form.

“We are in the same position as we were with one less game,” said the Spaniard. “We have to play on Wednesday and we have to lift them up.

“The task is big but the opportunity as well is so precious that we all want to do it.

“(I will) give all the support in the world to them because they need it. They are 19, 20, 21 years old most of them and that is what they need.

“We are who we are but at the end you have to win the matches and, if you want to be there, that has to be defined in the boxes.”

A first-half strike from Southampton defender Jan Bednarek continued Arsenal’s miserable run.

Bukayo Saka and substitute Emile Smith Rowe each forced fine saves from Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster, but the visitors failed to make a breakthrough.