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Arteta backs Everton to survive despite points penalty

London (AFP) – Mikel Arteta has backed his former club Everton to “fight against anything” after a 10-point deduction for financial breaches left them in the Premier League relegation zone.

The Arsenal boss said Friday he still felt “very connected” to the club where he spent six years, playing more than 200 games as a midfielder.

The punishment for Everton for breaking Premier League profitability and sustainability rules means they go into their match against Manchester United on Sunday level on four points with bottom club Burnley.

But the nine-time English champions are just two points from safety, thanks to recent wins and the poor form of the other teams at the bottom.

“It’s a very difficult moment,” said Arteta. “Obviously it puts the club in a difficult position but they have been in many other difficult positions and they always find a way to get out.

“If there is a quality that I think describes that club, it is the courage and determination and the fight and they will fight against anything and I wish them the best.”

The Spaniard, whose third-placed side travel to Brentford on Saturday, said news of the punishment for Everton last week took him by surprise.

“It’s a big one in the middle of the season but I don’t know the regulation or the whole story inside it so it’s difficult for me to comment,” he said.

Arteta was charged earlier this month by England’s Football Association over an explosive VAR rant following his side’s defeat 1-0 against Newcastle.

Chief Operating Officer at referees body PGMOL Howard Webb has publicly explained the reason for the decision to allow Antony Gordon’s controversial winner.

The Arsenal boss welcomed the open communication.

“We want to improve the game, all of us – referees, managers, officials, owners, sporting directors,” he said. 

“We all want a better game and to have a better game we have to have freedom of speech, respectfully, in a constructive way but we have to promote that. If not, you don’t get there, that’s for sure.”

Saturday’s game against Brentford will be Arteta’s 200th in charge of Arsenal and the Spaniard, who also played for the Gunners, said he was “very proud” to reach the landmark.

When asked which game was his favourite, he said: “The first one because it’s a special moment to have the possibility to become the Arsenal manager. For me it was a dream come true and looking back to that first game it’s something really special. 

“I’m very proud, I’m very grateful. Obviously so many people around that have contributed in a massive way to be here for almost four years.”

Arsenal’s Manager Mikel Arteta points during the English Premier League Football match between Arsenal and Burnley at Emirates stadium in London, England. PHOTO: AP