Monday, October 3, 2022

Arteta relishing ´defining moment´ at Spurs as Arsenal stand on brink of Champions League

SoccerNews in English Premier League 8 May 2022

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Mikel Arteta says Arsenal will have “an extra level of motivation” when they face Tottenham on Thursday knowing a victory would seal Champions League qualification.

The Gunners extended their winning run to four Premier League matches at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, seeing off 10-man Leeds United 2-1 to go four points clear of Spurs.

Eddie Nketiah punished Illan Meslier’s early howler to open the scoring and the striker doubled Arsenal’s lead with a clinical finish only 10 minutes in.

Things went from bad to worse for Leeds in a nightmare first half when Luke Ayling was sent off for a reckless two-footed lunge on Gabriel Martinelli.

Diego Llorente pulled a goal back in the second half, but Leeds dropped into the relegation zone as Arsenal strengthened their grip on fourth place with three games to play.

A North London derby win will guarantee them a place in the Champions League next season and the Spaniard is determined to make it mission accomplished in the home of their fierce rivals.

The Arsenal boss said: “We want to prepare and go for that match like we always do, with the same enthusiasm, but knowing obviously that this can be a defining moment and that’s an extra level of motivation and another layer for us to really go for it and I can’t wait to play that game.”

It appeared that Arsenal could run riot even before Whites captain Ayling was sent off and Arteta felt his side made hard work of securing three precious points two days after he signed a new contract.

Asked if they made seeing out the win more difficult than it ought to have been, he replied: “Yes, considering the way that we started I think we were electric, so determined, so incisive, we scored two good goals, created chances and didn’t allow anything to happen around our box.

“And after that, obviously, the red card presents a different match where they change completely their behaviour and how they set up and we have to manage the game in a different way.

“I think for a lot of phases we did well, but we needed to score the third goal and we had the chances to do so and then the accident happen when the first time that they were through at a set-piece we conceded a goal and it’s game on and some nerves have to handled.”

Arteta, who revealed Ben White is poised to return at Tottenham, says spirits are understandably high in the Arsenal dressing room but they know there is work to do.

“Really good, really positive, but at the same time really humble,” he said of the mood in the camp. “We know that nothing has been achieved yet and still a lot of things and a lot of minutes to play to do what we want to achieve.”

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