Mikel Arteta received some words of encouragement from Arsenal legend Robert Pires before the win over Aston Villa, and they may have helped inspire him.
Saturday afternoon’s was a must win for Arsenal, after they’d picked up just one point from the previous nine on offer to them in the Premier League.
The last thing Arteta would have wanted to see was the man he replaced at the Emirates Stadium, in the form of Villa boss Unai Emery.
The Gunners got level through a brilliant strike from Bukayo Saka, only for Philippe Coutinho to put the hosts back ahead before half time.
Oleksandr Zinchenko’s goal tied things up again but when Martin Odegaard missed a sitter it looked like the two sides would share the points.
The Frenchman revealed to the Telegraph that he’d sent the manager a message ahead of the game, saying, “I sent him [Arteta] a message by WhatsApp.
“I told him, ‘Mikel, it’s OK. We trust you. You have to keep your head up.’
“We have to support him in these moments.”
Pires, who played at Villa as well, was a member of ‘the Invincibles,’ who remain the last Arsenal team to win the league title, 19 years ago.
It will be a hell of achievement for Arteta and his players if they can end nearly two decades without that success, and Pires sees similarities between the current side and the one he played for.
“There are parallels,” the Frenchman said, “The idea, the essence of Arteta in terms of the game is almost the same as Wenger.
“When I see this Arsenal it reminds me of the Arsenal of my time. To play well you need talent and now they have it. This squad is built to attack, and this Arsenal is entertaining me.”