Mikel Arteta has played down suggestions that Arsenal and Sp*rs are in a straight shootout to finish fourth in the Premier League saying he continues to expect more “twists and turns.”
After consecutive wins over Manchester United and Chelsea, the Gunners head into the weekend with a two-point advantage on Antonio Conte’s side with both sides having five games remaining.
Despite a five-point gap on the Red Devils and an eight-point advantage over West Ham, the manager is reticent to write any side off.
“There will still be some twists and turns, we all have difficult matches to play,” he said on Friday.
“We all know how difficult it is to win games in the Premier League and now we had two really good results that put us in a really good position. But it is about doing it again at West Ham.”
A win against the Hammers would make it three in a row for the Gunners and the boss admits it’s given his players a real boost after a testing few weeks.
I think in the league when you are able to win consecutively away and at home, it gives you a huge platform and things quickly change,” he said.
“We have some momentum now and we want to make the most out of it.”
After an impressive campaign last time out, West Ham have continued to impress under David Moyes, not only challenging again for a place in Europe on the domestic front but also in the Europa League.
Even though the Hammers have had to contend with a busy schedule – they played against frankfurt on Thursday – Arteta isn’t expecting it to make the Gunners’ life any easier.
“They have been doing that all season and they have been really good in both competitions,” said the Spaniard.
“They have a big squad as well, they have many different options to change their players and still maintain their level. So I don’t see that. We have played games Wednesday night and Saturday at 12.30pm, we have managed to beat them, so I don’t think about that.”
He added: “It is very demanding but you watched yesterday’s game [against Frankfurt] nd the chances that they created and the chances that they missed it could have been very very different so I don’t think it’s a performance issue but of course, it is demanding when you play three times a week.”
Given West Ham are within touching distance of a first European final in nearly 50 years, there have been suggestions they could rest players on Sunday ahead of their semi-final second leg in Germany. The same is expected of Leicester, who play Sp*rs on Sunday, with the Foxes attempting to win the Europa Conference League.
“It’s a decision on how they manage their squad, how they get the best out of their squad and how close they think they are of reaching something that they have to prioritise,” noted Arteta. “You have to respect that decision.
“We don’t know what they think, what they think is better to prepare the match. All we are doing is preparing for the game in the normal way and knowing that it could vary and there could be some options.”