Mikel Arteta’s experience is lesson Everton should heed, Rafael Benitez claims

The Spaniard is under intense scrutiny after eight matches without a victory

Carl Markham
Friday 03 December 2021 15:32
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Rafa Benítez defends Everton players after heavy Merseyside derby defeat

Under-pressure Everton manager Rafael Benitez believes the experience of Monday’s opposite number Mikel Arteta is a lesson his club should heed.

The Spaniard – as well as the board and director of football Marcel Brands – is under intense scrutiny after eight matches without a victory which has seen them slip to within five points of the Premier League bottom three.

Arsenal manager Arteta lost his first three fixtures of the season, including a surprise loss to newcomers Brentford, and did not make it out of the bottom half of the table until late October.

They now sit fifth, a point behind West Ham, after just two defeats in their last 11 league matches and Benitez believes – given time and a chance to recover from a debilitating injury crisis – his side will regain the form which saw them take 13 points from their first six matches to reach fifth in the fledgling table.

“I think he is doing well and could be an example of a new manager at a new club under pressure from the beginning last year, from the beginning this season,” said Benitez of the former Everton midfielder.

“Little by little he has continued working the way he wants to work and the team is getting better.

“They have also spent some money and they did well as they have signed some good players.

“He is an example of a manager at a new club who needed time and everyone was talking about ‘We need to give him time’ and now he is collecting the prize of that.”

Benitez has not been helped by the absence of last season’s leading scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin since the end of August due to a thigh injury.

As a result the team has struggled for goals with Demarai Gray’s effort in Wednesday’s Merseyside derby defeat their first for a month.

“I was talking with the physio and fitness coach and he is getting better but still a couple of weeks minimum,” said the Spaniard.

“We have to be very careful with him as he’s had two injuries so we want to be sure he is getting stronger and well and now is the time to progress and he is doing really well.”

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