Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal need to be more alert at the start of games but he doesn’t want to make too big a thing of reminding his players because he’s wary of it having a detrimental effect.
The Gunners have conceded three goals inside a minute in 2023 and were nearly undone in a similar fashion by PSV Eindhoven in Wednesday night’s Champions League encounter at the Emirates.
“I noticed that and I didn’t like it,” he told his pre-Sp*rs press conference. “We have to react and we have to be sharp and more on it, right from the beginning. Especially at home with what happened a few times.”
Reflecting on the way other bad trends seemed only to get worse after garnering lots of attention, he joked he’s not sure how to safeguard against early lapses in concentration.
“I haven’t got a clue, that’s the reality. When we used to have a lot of players sent off, we used to talk about it and we made it worse. We said we needed more clean sheets at home and then we decided not to talk about it and we got a clean sheet at home, which we’d not had many of in the last 30 games. So, I don’t have the answer yet if I’m honest.”
Arteta did make clear that his side will not come into the derby feeling complacent, despite a very good record in home encounters against Sp*rs.
“There won’t be any of that. We know the level of the opponent, we know the game that we have to play and we have huge respect for them but at the same time we’re going to go for it and win the game.”
Fresh from a fine goal in midweek and signing a new contract, captain Martin Odegaard is in fine fettle coming into Sunday’s clash.
The Norway international says he’s very much looking forward to the occasion and the chance to pit his wits against an in-form Sp*rs outfit.
“From what I have seen of Tottenham so far this season they look better than last year. They are playing differently, maybe having more possession and they have a different manager, and some new players, so you expect a new style from them. They have a lot of quality players, and they have started the season well, so we have to be ready and be at our best this afternoon,” he told the club’s official matchday programme.
“We’ve got some new players too of course, but everyone knows what this fixture is about. Even if you’ve been playing for a different team, you know how special this game is and how important it is. They will feel it straight away, going into a game like this.
“For me, I felt it from the first time. I remember the week before the first derby I played was a little bit different. The atmosphere at the training ground and everyone around was a little bit more excited, a few nerves too maybe, but it was a great feeling.
“The good thing for us as well is that we can come into this game feeling very good after our win on Wednesday, and the way we performed against PSV was really pleasing. We had the motivation and energy to put in a good display right from the start. To be back in that competition is huge for us as a club and you could see how much we enjoyed it out on the pitch. We are in the Champions League this year to compete, we are in it to fight to go all the way, so we have set the standards now with that first game, and now we need to keep working hard.”