Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta unfazed by London pecking order ahead of Spurs clash
Mikel Arteta has dismissed being top dogs in London as utterly irrelevant for Arsenal.
The Gunners boss, whose side are currently fourth best in the capital, insists the only place he wants his side to be sitting is at the Premier League summit.
The declaration from Arteta comes ahead of today’s North London derby against bitter rivals Tottenham.
Jose Mourinho’s men kick off at the Emirates SEVEN points ahead of their inconsistent neighbours – and still in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
Arteta’s Arsenal, who are also behind Chelsea and West Ham in the league, can only dream of such a lofty position right now.
Asked if being so low in the ‘Big Smoke’ hierarchy is acceptable for a club of their size and stature, the Spaniard’s response was emphatic. Absolutely not.
However, he is equally adamant that is not something he would ever use to measure his success in N5.
Arteta said: “No, we want to be the best. And not in London. We want to be the best in the league.
“That’s the standard we have to try to reach because of the expectation we have and what this club has done over the years.
“I’m not interested about London. I’m interested about the whole country and being the best in the country!”
That ambition to rule the Premier League appears farther away now than it did when Arteta replaced sacked Unai Emery in the Emirates hot-seat 14 months ago.
But when pressed how long it might be before his Gunners are actually challenging the likes of Manchester City for the title, he conceded he has no idea.
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“When we are able to do that? I don’t know,” added the ex-Arsenal and Everton playmaker.
“If I did know, I would give you a date. What I do know is that tomorrow has to be a better team than today. My whole focus is towards that.
“You make the right decision for the next day to be better – and then how we can be as competitive as we have to be in the shortest possible time.”
If progress is slower than Arsenal supporters expected, Arteta points to the fact that an entire year of his spell as boss has been amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is exactly 12 months since the Premier League was brought to a dramatic halt by the virus outbreak in the UK.
Arteta, who at the time became the first Premier League boss to catch COVID, believes the national lockdowns that followed hampered his team's development.
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Not only because he had less opportunity to work on the training ground with his players but also because of the knock-on problems it created in the transfer market.
Arteta said: “The time that I’ve been in the job…two-and-a-half months in normal circumstances – and then a period completely away from the team – isn’t the same as a year in normal circumstances.
“When you talk about the transfer windows – it’s very difficult to explain about the windows and how they were dealt with.”
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