Arsenal fans sent exciting promise by Mikel Arteta ahead of ‘spectacular’ Tottenham derby

Mikel Arteta previews North London Derby against Tottenham

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Mikel Arteta has promised a “spectacular” match as his Arsenal side know no other way than to play to win. Do that against Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday night and Arsenal will guarantee themselves fourth place and a return to the Champions League.

So it is no surprise he feels it is his most exciting game he has had in two years at the club. “We always play to win and that’s the way we will prepare for this game,” Arteta said. “I’m sure they will try to do the same. That’s why hopefully it’s a really spectacular game.

“It’s the most exciting one, probably. We had others when we played finals against Chelsea and Liverpool in the FA Cup and the Community Shield. But when you have the opportunity to achieve one of your objectives in the season, you just cannot wait to play the game because this is a job, and the work you have done throughout the season to try to earn it.

“It’s not about the pressure, it’s about having that inner belief that this will be the day and we want to achieve what we have earned. Qualifying for the Champions League is what we want to do.

“It’s what we haven’t been able to achieve in the past few years and it’s had big consequences for the club in the atmosphere and environment around it, financially. We want to put that right and the best way to do it and help the club is to deliver on the pitch because the rest naturally plays out. That’s what we want.”

Even if they lose, Arsenal still will have the upper hand, knowing that wins in their remaining two games will still be enough to pip Tottenham and qualify for Europe’s premier club competition for the first time since 2018. And a draw would mean just one win in those two games would get them over the line.

It is all a far cry from the start of the season when Arsenal failed to score in three opening defeats that had fans calling for his head.

“Well you have to be prepared for that,” Arteta said. “This club is built on history and tells you that you have to be the best in the country and you have to win every competition you’re involved with. We have to deal with that pressure, and when you’re not delivering results it’s part of the job.”

Arteta’s biggest concern is a pair of late fitness tests on England pair Ben White and Bukayo Saka. Unsurprisingly, the Arsenal manager was keeping his cards close to his chest, but it is expected that both should make the starting line-up.

“It’s very difficult to rate with injuries – it’s just how they feel today,” he said. “That’s the last day that we can assess them and try to get the feeling, basically.” 

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