Mikel Arteta happy Arsenal remain in control of their Champions League fate
Mikel Arteta is satisfied Arsenal’s hopes of a Premier League top-four finish remain in their own hands despite a humbling defeat at fierce rivals Tottenham on Thursday.
Arsenal were brushed aside 3-0 by their north London neighbours at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, meaning the battle for the final Champions League spot is likely to go down to the wire.
Despite such a dispiriting loss, Arsenal hold the upper hand as maximum points from their last two matches – at Newcastle on Monday and Everton next weekend – would render whatever Spurs do irrelevant.
Arteta, who will be without Rob Holding at St James’ Park following the centre-half’s dismissal against Antonio Conte’s side, is therefore upbeat about Arsenal’s situation despite a demoralising setback.
“Two games and two wins is a good place to be,” said Arteta, whose side finish their campaign by welcoming struggling Everton to the Emirates Stadium next Sunday.
Having had time to reflect on their humiliation earlier this week, Arteta was similarly keen to take the positives.
“Obviously losing like that is always painful,” he added.
“But, as well, you learn a lot, probably more than with any victory. So it is good to go through those moments, sometimes.
Two games and two wins is a good place to be
“We knew that losing was a possibility. To get into the position that we are in, a lot has happened in the past. We have been through it, we have experienced it. Hopefully that can help us on Monday.”
Arteta, who is facing a dilemma at the heart of his defence with Holding banned and Ben White and Gabriel doubtful due to injuries, paid tribute to the job Eddie Howe is doing at Newcastle.
When Howe took charge of Newcastle last November, they were second bottom in the league and without a win in their opening 11 games of the season, but the former Bournemouth boss has transformed their fortunes and guaranteed the Magpies’ place in the top-flight next season.
“You can see straightaway what they have changed on the coaching side,” Arteta said. “They tried to modify the way they were playing.
“They have changed formations at first but after that they’ve been quite consistent. They have turned around I think, in a really good way. So, merit to them.”
Arsenal are likely to be subjected to a second hostile reception in a matter of days when they travel to St James’ Park but Arteta insisted his side should embrace the occasion on Tyneside.
“Obviously this is the Premier League,” he said. “It’s great to go to away grounds and experience those moments.
“As an athlete you want to be exposed to that and take it in the right way and feel lucky to play these kind of games.”
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