It’s been a while since any of these teams were title contenders but that’s what Arsenal are at the moment. They welcome Manchester United to the Emirates today, the visitors are fourth and eight points behind the Gunners, who played a game more. Could Man United sneak into the race themselves? Stranger things I guess. Manchester City fans are in the unusual, uncomfortable position of cheering for their city rivals this afternoon.
If Arsenal won they would have 50 points from 19 (ie half a season) games and if that’s not league form I don’t know what is. Only one team has reached 100 in a PL season, City 2017-2018 as they came around the turn after dropping just two points in 19 games. Arsenal’s form and performances so far have been impressive.
However, as you can imagine, Mikel Arteta isn’t celebrating yet. “Consistency is probably one of the hardest things to deliver but probably the most important thing if you want to be at the top and win a lot of games. That’s what we’ve delivered so far and we just have to keep doing it.”
This game, of course, delivered some of the greatest plays – and most spiteful ding-dongs – of the Premier League era. Ahead of this, Arteta was asked if this Arsenal vintage had the physical and mental toughness of the past.
“It’s necessary to have that balance and those qualities in the squad. It’s very important to have the mentality and ability to control emotions that it takes to play on big stages.
“The physical aspect is necessary – without that you can’t compete over 11 months in the conditions we work in. We tried to build a team that has everything.”
Asked if Arsenal can continue, he said: “We haven’t done it in recent years. To be in the title race we have to show we can do it. Words mean nothing, we have to do it.” Do it on the pitch.”
Meanwhile, David De Gea had some kind words for fellow countryman Arteta. He thinks that Erik ten Hag and MA could be mentioned in the same breath as two legends.
“We’re probably talking to Arsenal’s Sir Alex (Ferguson) and (Arsene) Wenger about one of the best managers in history. They’re different eras, football has changed a bit but we’ll see,” said De Gea.
“Both managers are really good now, both Arsenal and Man United are playing well so it’s going to be a nice game.
“Everyone knows how big the game is on Sunday because we’re fighting for the top spots there, so I’m sure everyone will be ready and we’ll go again.”