Mikel Arteta is hoping for Manchester City to drop points in his ‘heart and soul’

Arsenal are embroiled in a thrilling two-horse title race between themselves and Manchester City. The battle for the Premier League looks as if it will go down to the wire as the Gunners aim to stop the Cityzens from winning their fourth consecutive title. 

The dynamic is fascinating, as Guardiola’s prodigy aims to become the first manager to pip him to the title since Jurgen Klopp in the 2019/20 season. 

Last season, Arsenal’s title hopes fell apart going into the deciding nine games of the season. Arteta’s side led the title race by a staggering eight points, albeit City had one game in hand. But, as the run-in began to heat up, Arsenal crumbled, dropping points in six of their last nine games. 

However, this campaign, Arsenal look as if they have peaked at the perfect moment. Arteta’s side appear almost destined to win the title, and their convincing victories over Tottenham and Chelsea would have made Arsenal supporters start to dream of the title returning to North London for the first time since 2004. 

The difference between this season’s Arsenal and that of the last campaign is that the Gunners grew into this campaign, seeming to get stronger and stronger throughout the season, whereas last year they seemed to become weaker with every week that passed towards the back end of the season.

Arsenal’s mid-season trip to Dubai appeared to be the catalyst for quite a special second half of the campaign. The Gunners returned as set-piece magicians, goal-scoring galácticos and dazzling defenders. Arteta’s side went on an eleven-match unbeaten run – scoring 38 and conceding just four. 

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For all the success the improved Gunners have had this campaign, should Arteta be holding the league trophy at 5pm on May 19th, it will require the nine-time league winners Manchester City to stumble in one of their final four games. 

Mikel Arteta expressed that he is desperate for City to slip up, telling reporters that ‘in my heart and in my soul … this is what I am hoping for, yes.’

The lunchtime kick-off gives Arsenal a chance to propel themselves four points clear of Manchester City before the Cityzens have even kicked a ball. Arteta shared that he watches the City games in the hope that they will drop points, but once the game is over, he forgets about it and shifts his focus back to Arsenal. 

‘You know what is going on [with my emotions]. You just want to win and to win, you need others to drop points, and you are hoping for that to happen. And then [after City win] you have to manage your emotions because it doesn’t matter what happens on that day.’

‘There are still a lot of games and points to play for. You are going to have to perform, prepare and win the next match in order to maintain that momentum. This is what we are trying to do.’

The Arsenal boss pointed out how the expectations of his side have shifted throughout his spell in charge. He explained that the external focus on his side has gone from having them in the Champions League picture last season to not even mentioning the fact that the Gunners are guaranteed to be playing in Europe’s premier competition come September. 

‘Nobody asked about us qualifying for the Champions League. Not a single question. Now the only focus is on winning the Premier League.’ 

‘So next season, what is it going to be? These are the demands. This is how we live in this world. It is about now—what you have done and what else we have not done. The question now is what else? What do we have to do now? What you have done, that is taken for granted.’

‘But it’s a good sign [that securing Champions League football passed by everyone]. Before you were looking, asking how many points does it need to be? ‘Still, seven to go and we have three matches, woah we are in trouble’. Now it is a different story and it’s a great sign.’

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Arteta confessed that the internal focus had shifted too; there was no room for celebrating securing Champions League football, even though it was their initial goal.

‘Celebrating? No. Obviously, that is the first thing we wanted to achieve, consistent Champions League football. It is the second year in a row, a consistent challenge for big titles. We are doing this. But we know what the aim is and it is right there. Let’s see if we can do it.’

Downplaying any talk of a legacy and how much he has transformed Arsenal since he took the reins at the Emirates in 2019, the Spanish coach had all eyes on tomorrow’s match against Bournemouth. 

‘My dynasty is win tomorrow! Play really good tomorrow and win tomorrow. This is my dynasty.’