Mikel Arteta: Chelsea ‘deserve to be in a much higher position’

Ahead of a season-defining week in the Premier League title race, with the North London derby on the horizon, Mikel Arteta spoke to the media on Media to to preview Tuesday night’s Premier League fixture against Chelsea.

Saturday saw a return to winning ways for Arteta’s Arsenal side as they beat Wolves 2-0 in a cagey affair – and after a poor week that saw them drop points in the league at home to Aston Villa and exit the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich, Arteta was very happy with the character that his team showed in getting the win away from home in difficult circumstances.

‘It was a good test to see how we react to certain obstacles and how much we want it and what we are capable of doing when some people are questioning us,’ insisted the Spaniard.

In terms of the Gunners‘ potential title hopes, the win was absolutely vital as it had put them top of the league, with tomorrow night’s fixture giving them a chance to go four points clear of Manchester City – although the Cityzens benefit from having two games in hand. Arteta spoke on the importance of that win and how determined his side are to finally get over the final hurdle.

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‘It was quite good, it really meant a lot to us and we’re in a really great position in the Premier League. It’s been like this for nine months now and we want to really give it a good go and are really determined to do what’s in our hands to lift that trophy. Tomorrow we are going to have a really tough opponent in front of us, and we will try and overcome that opponent again.’

Moving onto tomorrow’s opponents, Arteta has a very close relationship with Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino due to their time spent at PSG together. He spoke very fondly of the relationship the two share, and praised Chelsea’s season so far, insisting that he believes that they are much better than many have given them credit for.

‘They deserve to be in a much higher position in the league when you look at what they’ve done and what they’ve produced in games. They have reached a final they have reached a semi-final and they could’ve gone through, so I think what Mauricio is doing is really impressive and I’m sure he is going to get them there.’

Arsenal face the challenge of an April packed with eight games, all of which are absolutely crucial. Amidst talk from his peers that the current schedule at the top level of the game is hindering players, Arteta spoke highly of the energy that he still sees in his squad going into the run in and how much winning improves that.

‘When I saw them this morning I had to stop them, because winning gives us a big boost of energy, and after their big performance against Wolves and having to play a big London Derby tomorrow, everyone is ready for it.’

‘With the volume and amount of games, it’s not the moment for us to think about that, we have to think in a positive way and feel that we are fresh to perform in the best possible way.’

In recent years, Arsenal’s record against the ‘big six’ has improved dramatically, with the North London side still unbeaten in such games this season. Arteta was asked about what he think has changes in the psychology of the club that has improved their results in these must win fixtures.

‘I don’t think it’s psychology as much as it is performance, obviously the more you win against big teams, the more you believe that you can do it consistently. We prepare for every game to beat them, and tomorrow it will definitely be the same and we must prove on the pitch that we are better than them.’