Mikel Arteta: ‘Maybe it needs to update the software’ as supercomputer gives Arsenal 26% chance of lifting PL trophy

Mikel Arteta addressed the media at Sobha Realty Training Centre on Friday afternoon, as the Gunners gear up for a highly anticipated trip to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham Hotspur in the final North London Derby of the 2023/24 Premier League season.

A cinematic Tuesday evening in N5 saw the Gunners demolish Chelsea in a 5-0 battering at Emirates Stadium – thanks to emphatic goal-scoring performances from Ben White and former Blue, Kai Havertz.

Arsenal now turn their attention toward an all important meeting with Tottenham Hotspur as the race for the Premier League title reaches maximum temperature. The visit to their local rivals proves pivotal in the race for gold, as any drop of points may see the Gunners fall out of what has become a two-horse race between themselves and Manchester City.

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Speaking on recent performances from his side, Arteta expressed that they’ve ‘been great. Not only the results, but the performances as well. We had a big one again in the last London Derby against Chelsea, and now we’ll have a big one I’m sure. We have to do it, and we are going to try and beat Spurs as well.’

Emphatic victories from both Arsenal and Manchester City in recent days have seen the title race heat up even more, something that Arteta reflected on by saying ‘we are there. We have to look at ourselves and try to perform in the best possible way [to] win our matches. I can’t wait to see what happens and that’s what we’ve discussed, it sounds a bit repetitive but that’s what we’ve got to do.’

Liverpool fell to a 2-0 defeat in the Merseyside Derby on Wednesday evening, as many now believe the Premier League title fight now zones in on a two-horse race between the Gunners and the Cityzens. Discounting the possibility, Arteta said ‘I don’t think so. I think this league is tremendously demanding, and there can still be a lot of turns. We know how difficult it is to win games in this league.’

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The OPTA Supercomputer currently holds the Gunners at a 26.6% chance of winning the Premier League. Digesting the statistic that falls out of their favour, Arteta joked: ‘hopefully we can trick that computer and make it a bit higher! Maybe it needs to upload the software, maybe we need to help it to upload the software and give it new tools. Hopefully we can change that.’

Squad selection is now providing Arteta with a ‘good headache’ – as described by the Gunners boss. Thomas Partey was back to his best in N5 as the Gunners dominated the Blues, whilst electric form from Leandro Trossard and Kai Havertz continues to raise the levels of competition amidst the squad.

Arteta provided an update on the fitness of his side, whilst highlighting the competitive fight for a spot in the starting eleven.

‘We mentioned that before – that there was going to be something here. Apart from Jurrien [Timber] who is very close, we are going to have everyone available. That’s a huge boost that elevates the training session, the competition between the players, and the ability to pick the right line up to change the game. It’s something really important.’

‘It’s good for the players as well because I see how much they want it, and how much everyone wants to start to and contribute to the team to impact the team in the right way. It is always difficult, it’s a part of the job. But as well, they are fully ready to come on the pitch at whatever time we need them, to try to help us to win matches. Their spirit is so good.’

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The summer window saw the warmly welcomed addition of Declan Rice into the Arsenal side, something that many perceived to be the missing puzzle piece in the Gunners‘ search for trophy success. Questions however arose out of the signing of Kai Havertz – a concern that has since been nullified by the German striker’s firing form.

Speaking on Havertz, Arteta expressed: ‘We made the decision super aligned with the club vision. We were very convinced that they were characters first, then they were players with the right qualities to fit into our model and in our club. Sometimes it takes a bit of time – it’s inevitable that you’re going to make mistakes. I try to minimise them, and try to at least generate the environment for a reason that the players fulfil their potential.’

The North London Derby is one of the biggest occasions on the stage of English football, as the Gunners gear up for a highly anticipated meeting with their city rivals come Sunday.

Speaking on how his side prepare to face the roaring atmosphere on enemy territory, Arteta said ‘we know, I think it’s an unbelievable atmosphere. It’s a beautiful stadium, we’ve played there a few times already and it’s a great atmosphere to play football. We know about the rivalry, but you have to put that aside – you have to lead the game with the intensity and passion that demands it.’

‘On top of that, we know what we are playing for. I don’t think we need anything special, because the game has got everything you need as a player to go and enjoy it.’

Sunday’s North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will be hosted by Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with proceedings heading underway at 14:00 GMT.