Soccer

Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal could rely on goal difference to win Premier League

Despite heading into the weekend two points off the top of the table in third, the Gunners now boast the best goal difference in the league.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admits goal difference could be a deciding factor for the Premier League title
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admits goal difference could be a deciding factor for the Premier League title (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Mikel Arteta knows his free-scoring Arsenal side could rely on goal difference if they are to win the Premier League this season.

Despite heading into the weekend two points off the top of the table in third, the Gunners now boast the best goal difference in the league.

Arteta’s side have doled out 6-0, 5-0 and 4-1 wins in their last three league games and have an aggregate of 25-3 since the turn of the year.

That sees them ahead of title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City and, with a three-way title race that could go down to the wire, Arteta believes everything will count.

“Yes, for sure,” he replied when asked if the goalscoring record will be important by the end of the season.

“First of all you have to earn the right to win the games and then we want to be ruthless and efficient in front of goal.

“Lately I think we’ve been really good.

“In the last 15 or 20 minutes against Newcastle we could maybe have done a bit more, and we have to continue to do that especially when you bring the subs in because they can re-energise the team and continue at a really high level.

“It’s something that we want to continue to do.”

Arteta will back his side to continue a good run in front of goal as they face bottom club Sheffield United on Monday night, with the Blades having shipped a league-high 66 goals this season.

“With every team we look at the weaknesses and the strengths, and we look to take the game where we want,” Arteta said of facing Chris Wilder’s side.

“I’m saying this because I know that team very well. I analysed it many years ago and I learnt from Chris’ teams and I’m telling you it’s going to be a really tough match.

“They are a really difficult team to beat. I’ve watched their last four or five games now.

“With the City game, against Villa the game took a different route, but they are extremely well-coached.

Arsenal have been ruthless in front of goal since the turn of the year
Arsenal Arsenal have been ruthless in front of goal since the turn of the year (John Walton/PA)

“I know Chris Wilder really well and I admire a lot of what he does with his teams.

“It will be Monday night football and it’s gonna be a tough night.”

Arsenal could welcome back Thomas Partey and Oleksandr Zinchenko for the game after the pair both recovered from injury.

Jurrien Timber will not travel, but is closing in on a comeback from a serious knee injury suffered on his Premier League debut in August.

Jorginho will be hoping to keep his place in the side, too, with Arsenal planning on to open contract negotiations with the Italy midfielder following a string of standout performances.

The 32-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season, but the PA news agency understands that a one-year deal with the option of a further year is planned as an opening point for talks.

Jorginho joined Arsenal from London rivals Chelsea last January and has so far made 41 appearances across all competitions, scoring once and put in a man-of-the-match display against Newcastle last weekend.