Saturday, February 24, 2024

Arteta: There’s still a marathon ahead of us

For the second year running, Arsenal are top of the Premier League in December but this time around, there’s no mid-season hiatus for an international tournament. Instead, it’s full steam ahead into a packed festive schedule.

When you look at the Gunners’ upcoming fixtures, including away trips in four of the next five matches, you can understand why Mikel Arteta isn’t paying much attention to the current standings or the fact title rivals have been dropping points in recent weeks.

He knows all too well that any joy at opening up a three-point lead over Manchester City won’t last long if his players take their eye off the ball. So far, he’s buoyed by their focus.

“No,” was his firm response when asked if he takes encouragement from the reigning champions drawing three games on the bounce.

“The encouragement comes from watching the team play and watching them behave every single day and how hungry and willing they are to play every single game, the way they approach every single training session. That’s what gives me encouragement. What the others do is something that we cannot control.”

Pressed on the opinions of pundits who think City are experiencing a comedown after last year’s treble-winning achievements, he responded, “I don’t look at those things, I have enough looking at my team.

“I think about how we’re going to play better tomorrow and be more consistent and be more difficult to beat, the things that we have to tweak, and how we can use our players in the best possible ways to win. There’s still a huge marathon ahead of us.”

After a weekend of action that saw 38 goals scored around the country, Arteta believes the quality of the English top flight is stronger than ever.

“The level has gone another level up and you can see it,” he noted. I was watching a lot of games yesterday afternoon and it’s incredible how game state changes and momentum changes in games.

“The quality the opponents have, the quality of the managers; it’s a really, really tough league. We don’t know how it’s going to continue but at the moment we are in a good place and tomorrow we want to be in a better place. To do that, we’re going to have to play really well tomorrow.”

In the aftermath of yesterday’s 3-3 draw between Sp*rs and Manchester City, Pep Guardiola aimed a sly dig at Arteta by refusing to be drawn into a conversation about the officiating.

The City coach had raged at the officials at full time after referee Simon Hooper denied Jack Grealish a goal-scoring opportunity by pulling back play for an earlier foul on Erling Haaland.

“I will not do a Mikel Arteta comment,” he replied; a reference to the Arsenal boss’ press conference meltdown following a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle in November.

Arteta, who is expected to be handed a touchline ban for his remarks about the decision to allow the home side’s winning goal, was asked if Guardiola’s comments represented ‘mind games’ and whether he was interested in getting involved in such distractions.

“If I am good at mind games, maybe you don’t notice,” he replied to much laughter from the media.

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Onenil

City have been charged at least.

Daveo

So what is the delay in Arteta’s ban? Waiting until the most impactful games are lined up to issue the ban no doubt…

Fatgooner

Come Easter we’ll be up there challenging for the title. The question is whether or not we’ll bottle it again for the third season in a row.

There are massive question marks concerning the character of this group of players. City are vulnerable but let’s see if Arsenal have the guts to take advantage this time.

IgorStepanoooo

Losing to state funded treble winners isn’t bottling it. We missed top four because we had a striker who couldn’t score, and a bunch of kids in attack, and spurs had pomp Kane and Son. Please don’t feed the Gary Neville narrative on here man. I come here to avoid it! It’s all good 👍

Badaab

*Losing to serial cheats.
It’s not on us, it’s on the league. They’re as culpable as city in this.

C.B.

It was injuries that stopped unwinding winning the PL last.season. Saliba and Tomi in particular and Partey too. The term bottling is wrong, it was.the lack of squad depth due to key injuries that was the killer.
Similarly this season if.Rice and Saliba are injured for a spell and we don’t do as well, is that bottling?

Alex

I don’t think the first season we were in with a chance. The second time our position was unexpected.

This time they know that being 10 points clear at the moment would mean nothing. When KDB is fit it might still mean nothing. They’re ready to fight for every inch.

matthinc

Fats, what on earth are you talking about? Have you seen the change in attitude on the pitch from late Wenger years when we had Mustafi, Auba, Ozil slouching about the place fighting for very little? It’s night and day.

Santi’s Phonebox

You have clearly bottled it as a supporter. Don’t wall yourself in fats to avoid the pain. You have to feel the pain to experience the glory.

Badaab

Pep going to retire before those charges come due and no one will talk about how its his legacy.

John

We were playing more attractive football last season but we look more streetwise and defensively robust this time. If we can keep our spine of Saliba, Rice, Odegaard and Jesus fit we’ll have a really good chance to still be competing with a few games to go.

Bleeding gums murphy

Jesus is so important to link play with saka, odegarrd and martinelli. If he gets injured (god forbid, he’s your son after all) we will struggle big time if we have to rely on nketia.

Baz

Other teams seem to be leaking goals for fun. We desperately need to keep the back line and Rice fit, if we do that I think we win the title purely based on our defensive form. We know what happened last year after the WC break and with a few injuries, if that doesnt happen this year we are in with a great shout.

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

And he wants Ramsdale to stay apparently…yes, I laughed too.

Ricky

You got a real Ramsdale hard-on don’t ya

The Beast

Who was laughing with you?

Bill Hall

Yes that interview amused me. If he wants Rambo to stay he needs to start playing him. I mean whatever happened to one keeper for the league and one for cups and Europe? That is what we used to do!

If Rambo leaves then next summer at the end of his loan, if we want to buy Raya Brentford will take us financially to the cleaners and ask for crazy money I guarantee it. And we will have no choice but to pay it!

Mostafa

I guess the price tag is already fixed in the loan deal.

Bill Hall

Hopefully it is
But Rambo still deserves a share of the games or he will get rusty and leave. And then we are back to square one!

TheMahoutalAttheTop

“If I am good at mind games, maybe you don’t notice” – GOLD from the boss He has a knack of dealing with the media for someone at his first management job,l – measured at times, at your face on other times, funny and grave when needed.

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