Mikel Arteta believes that Arsenal are in Premier League title contention – for the moment, at least – after watching them produce a dominant performance in the 1-0 win at Chelsea on Sunday which took them back to the top of the table.
Arteta said that Manchester City, who are two points back in second place, remain the favourites but he did concede that his club are in the mix. “We are today,” Arteta said. “But in football, today and tomorrow is very different. So let’s enjoy the time.
“Do something: just look at the last six years, what Manchester City have done. With the best manager in the world, the best team in the world. They have shown it consistently in every single competition. We have to be very, very respectful of that.
“We are getting much better as a team and competing much better. We are getting really good results right now, but this is a long, long [season].”
Arteta and his players celebrated wildly in front of the travelling enclosure, with the manager revealing that his family were in there. “It’s a big win for us, another step,” he said. “To come here against a top opponent, world-class players all over the pitch, dominate the game and actually win it is very meaningful. Hopefully, it will give the boys even more belief.
“We are a young team but we showed a lot of maturity, a lot of composure, a lot of courage to play on this stage. The boys were absolutely phenomenal. We lacked discipline when we lost at Manchester United [on 4 September]. But we learned that lesson really well. We played really well at Old Trafford and it wasn’t enough. That is the difference to what top teams do.”
It was feisty at Stamford Bridge, with Graham Potter, the Chelsea manager, accusing the Arsenal winger, Bukayo Saka, of diving after a first-half challenge from Marc Cucurella. Potter yelled out that Saka had dived.
Arteta, by contrast, was furious that Saka did not get a free-kick. “You saw me on that touchline – I was really calm and happy with the decisions,” Arteta said, with no little sarcasm.
Potter was less inflammatory after the match. “I think there was one action that was a little bit contentious, shall we say, but I don’t think he is that type of player,” he said.
Potter is struggling to cope with injury problems – he was without Kepa Arrizabalaga, Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Wesley Fofana and N’Golo Kanté – and he watched his team labour. Aaron Ramsdale did not have a serious save to make in the Arsenal goal.
“You could see the difference in the two teams in terms of confidence, in terms of points they’ve got, in terms of structure and working together,” Potter said. “We are not in a fantastic moment as we speak. As much as it is not nice to say, Arsenal deserved to win the game and were the better team overall so we have to take that and use it as motivation to improve.”