Soccer

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal face ‘huge marathon’ to try and dethrone Man City

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta (Andrew Matthews/PA) Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists he is not interested in what happens at title rivals Manchester City – either on or off the pitch.

The Gunners sit two points clear at the top of the Premier League after their narrow 2-1 win over Wolves on Saturday.

Liverpool are their nearest challengers as City were held to a draw for the third league game in a row – with Tottenham sealing a thrilling share of the spoils at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City have drawn their last three Premier League games (Martin Rickett/PA)
Pep Guardiola's Manchester City have drawn their last three Premier League games (Martin Rickett/PA) Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have drawn their last three Premier League games (Martin Rickett/PA)

Defending champions City will still be in the shake-up come the end of the season and pipped Arsenal to the title last season en route to winning the treble.

Asked if he has seen a drop-off from that City side that swatted away all comers last year, Arteta replied: “I don’t look at those things. I have enough looking at my team.

“I think about how we’re going to play better tomorrow and be more consistent and be more difficult to beat and the things that we need to tweak and how we can use our players in the best possible ways to win. It’s still a huge marathon ahead of us.

“The encouragement comes from watching the team play, watching them behave every day and how hungry and willing they are to approach every training session.

“That’s what gives me encouragement. What the others do is something that we cannot control.”

Arteta was also name-checked by friend and former colleague Pep Guardiola in the aftermath of City’s 3-3 draw with Spurs.

Guardiola refused to be drawn on the decision of Simon Hooper not to play an advantage late in the game as City broke through on goal – saying he would “not do a Mikel Arteta comment”.

It was a clear reference to former City assistant Arteta, who is still awaiting the outcome of a Football Association charge after he labelled the decision of VAR to award Anthony Gordon’s goal in a recent 1-0 loss to Newcastle as “embarrassing” and “a disgrace”.

“On to the next one (question) please,” Arteta replied when asked about Guardiola’s jibe.

Asked if he was aware of the sort of mind-games Premier League managers have utilised in the past, he added: “If I am good at mind games, maybe you don’t notice.”