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Mikel Arteta says Arsenal must remain realistic about their Premier League title chances this season as the Gunners chase their first top tier success since 2004.
Arsenal failed to land a top-four finish last term, sparking debate about Arteta’s immediate future at the club, however, they have set a searing pace in this season’s Premier League under the 40-year-old’s instruction and the Londoners currently hold a healthy seven-point lead at the summit of the table ahead of defending champions, Manchester City.
With 14 wins from 16 assignments under their belts, Arsenal have been playing like top dogs and they could extend their advantage at the top with a victory over Newcastle on Tuesday evening.
Arteta tries to temper expectations
When quizzed about Arsenal’s chances in this season’s Premier League title race in the build-up to the Gunners’ clash with Newcastle, Spanish tactician Arteta was understandably quick to talk his side down.
“It’s not about stopping anybody; it’s about being realistic where we are,” Arteta replied when asked about the difficulty in stopping supporters from getting ahead of themselves or carried away.
“The way we are performing, obviously it’s impressive and we are really happy with that.
“But, as well, we set the objectives in the short term and what we want to improve and what is making us win that many football matches.”
When pushed about his targets for the new year in 2023, Arteta was typically diffusive, saying, “To win against Newcastle. And then the next one and then the next one. That is the dream.”
🗣️| Mikel Arteta when asked about his aspirations for 2023:
“To win against Newcastle. And then the next one and then the next one. That is the dream.” [@Independent] #afc pic.twitter.com/5G3AZaapGM
— Arsenal Buzz (@ArsenalBuzzCom) January 3, 2023
Arteta praises Eddie Howe
Arsenal tightened their grip on first place in the Premier League when they roared to a fine 4-2 victory at Brighton on New Year’s Eve, just days after they had enjoyed being top of the division at Christmas for the first time since 2007.
Manchester City’s surprising 1-1 draw with Everton earlier in the day opened the door for Arsenal who seized their opportunity to push seven points clear of the Cityzens with both hands.
However, a skirmish with third-placed Newcastle should pose a tougher challenge than the one laid down by the Seagulls – something that Arteta is keenly aware of.
“I think what Eddie has done in that short period of time, when you look at the numbers, incredible big credit to him and the coaching staff”, said the Spaniard.
“And then they have created a belief, a momentum around the team that they play the same way against any opponent.
“It’s going to be another big test. But we play at home in front of our crowd and I’m looking forward to it. They’re a very good team, really well coached.
Arsenal were beaten 2-0 when they last played Newcastle back in May, though the landscape has shifted considerably for both teams since then.
The Gunners and their opponents from the north east have only been beaten once in 16 and 17 Premier League fixtures respectively since August and their collision at The Emirates Stadium on Tuesday should make for compelling viewing.