Mikel Arteta: ‘Every game is going to define what our future looks like’

As Arsenal prepare to face Aston Villa on Sunday, Mikel Arteta addressed the media from the club’s Sobha Realty Training Centre. The Gunners boss spoke about the continuing title race, Arsenal’s momentum and Unai Emery’s career achievements.

Emery oversaw his 1000th match as a manager in midweek when Aston Villa hosted Lille in the UEFA Europa Conference League, and Arteta commented that his compatriot’s longevity is ‘unbelievable.’

‘He’s done it in so many different countries, in so many different contexts and has been incredibly successful. Obviously he’s from very close to my hometown and I have huge admiration for him and his respect. I wish him the best after Sunday, but what is doing is really impressive.’

The respect for Emery will remain on Sunday, but Arteta knows deep down that his Arsenal side simply have to win at Villa Park if they’re to remain favourites for the Premier League title. Manchester City play on Saturday, while Liverpool’s clash with Crystal Palace will conclude less than an hour before the action gets underway at Emirates Stadium.

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‘We will know the results but we’ll still have our duty to win our game,’ explained Arteta, ‘which is the only thing that we can control. That’s happened a few times already and it’s going to happen again in the next few weeks, so we’ll just focus on what we can do, what we can control and make sure that we perform like we have to do against a really good side to try to beat them.’

Quizzed as to whether the next few weeks have the potential to decide the outcome of Arsenal’s season, Arteta offered a brutal assessment. ‘We can be in all competitions, going into the semi-finals of the Champions League and be top of the Premier League, or not. Every game is going to define what our future looks like,’ he said.

Arteta commented that he was pleased with how his players are turning pressure into motivation, because ‘they’ve lived it already and they are super excited about what we are doing and the way the team is performing, winning matches and they want more. We know the task, the challenge ahead of us and how good we have to be to win it, but we’re going to try.’