Arsenal are in a “difficult and unprecedented situation” after their record-breaking poor start to the season, according to Mikel Arteta.
After 2-0 defeats by Brentford and now Chelsea, Arsenal have lost their first two league games without scoring for the first time in their history.
The squad has been hit by Covid and injuries in the opening two weeks.
“I don’t think the club in their history have faced something like this,” boss Arteta told BBC Sport.
“We have to face the challenge. The league or table is not decided in August. The worst thing you can do is throw in the towel. We certainly are not going to do that.”
Romelu Lukaku – on his first appearance since joining Chelsea for £97.5m – and Reece James scored the goals and the Blues could have added more.
Arsenal are in the relegation zone at the end of a day – excluding on the opening day of a season – for the first time since August 1992.
Arteta added: “You have to understand the situation we have. We are missing nine players, and it is difficult. It is not just nine players – they are some big, big players.”
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They were without their two star forwards – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette – plus Willian and back-up keeper Alex Runarsson because of Covid against Brentford.
Aubameyang was back on the bench against Chelsea, but £50m centre-back Ben White was out after testing positive.
Thomas Partey, Gabriel and Eddie Nketiah are all injured too.
“There are a lot of positives,” Arteta said. “Five players who are 19 or 20 years old playing at this level for the first time – that will have a positive impact but at the moment it is difficult.
“I don’t like to feel sorry for myself. I think everyone can see at the moment we don’t have the squad that we want and it seems to be more difficult by the day.”
Arsenal were booed off at full-time in front of their biggest crowd in 533 days – but Arteta had no problem with that.
“The crowd were right behind the team from the beginning,” he said. “When you are losing you cannot expect them to be happy. They have given all the support they could. When we don’t win, they have to show that and that is natural.”