Mikel Arteta: ‘We have made some big steps in the last two or three years and we’re getting much closer’

Mikel Arteta spoke to the press at the Sobha Realty Training Centre on Friday ahead of Arsenal’s trip to the Etihad Stadium at the weekend.

The Gunners face a huge task against treble winners Manchester City. Both teams will be looking for a win to continue their hopes of lifting the Premier League title at the end of the season.

With plenty of teams across the country suffering from injuries over the recent international break, Arteta confirmed that ‘there is a chance‘ that Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, and Gabriel Magalhaes all feature against Manchester City, saying: “they haven’t trained, but tomorrow there is another session, so there is a chance that they may be available.”

Last time out against City, Arsenal ran away from the Emirates Stadium with a big 1-0 win courtesy of a deflected Martinelli strike.

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Mikel Arteta was full of praise for Guardiola’s City side and spoke of the confidence that beating them has brought Arsenal for the remainder of the season.

They have raised the bar in this league – and in football in general too – to a level that hasn’t been seen before. That’s the beauty of sport, it makes you better and challenges you more. You have to keep up with the pace, and that is what we are trying to do.

That’s where we want to be and we have to make strong steps to get there. I think we have made some big steps in the last two or three years and we’re getting much closer. Now, it’s about how you close that gap and try to be better than them.

Arsenal Women are also in action this weekend, with a Continental Cup final against Chelsea taking place at Molineux Stadium on Sunday. Arteta wished the team the best of luck for the match, acknowledging the importance the upcoming weekend has on the club as a whole.

It’s a big, big weekend,‘ he told reporters. ‘What they’re doing is incredible and I hope that they are going to get lots of support as well – that’s great news. Let’s go for it.

The Gunners’ last win at the Etihad Stadium came all the way back in January 2015. Since Mikel Arteta took charge of Arsenal at the end of 2019, the club’s infamously poor form away from home has changed dramatically.

On what the secret is to Arsenal’s strong away performances, the Spaniard said: ‘I don’t know. Probably that we try to play the same away as we do at home, and have that belief and aggression in our play.

The belief comes by winning, and starting to win at grounds you haven’t won at for many years. Now, they approach away games very similarly to home games. You cannot replicate it, but at least mentally, the purpose is very similar.

Manchester City host Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with kickoff scheduled for 16:30 GMT.