Mikel Arteta has defended Arsenal’s decision not to bring in a new striker in the January transfer window – and has full confidence his side have enough goals to beat Liverpool in a crucial title-race game on Super Sunday.
Arteta’s Arsenal host Jurgen Klopp’s top of the table side, who they sit five points behind in the Premier League, in a game which could have a major influence on where the title goes this year, live on Sky Sports, kick-off 4.30pm.
Last month, Arsenal lost to Liverpool in the FA Cup third round, in a match where the Gunners forward missed a host of chances before losing 2-0 to two late goals – and calls for a new forward increased after that game.
But a new striker did not come – with Arsenal opting not to bring any new face in last month – with Arteta having full belief in his players, who have seven goals in their last two games, ahead of such a big match with Liverpool.
Asked if failure to score goals and win on Sunday would lead to regrets, Arteta replied: “And if we win tomorrow (Sunday) and we score a lot of goals?
“I think like this: I love my players and I think tomorrow they are going to score goals and they are going to be top. They fully deserve all of our credit because of the way they are.
“We are scoring goals in different ways over the last two weeks, which is great to see. The team has to dominate every aspect of the game if we are going to be up there.
“We are conceding less than last season, we are generating more. Those margins have to be reflected in the scoreline, that’s what matters.”
Arsenal have already beaten one title rival at home when they beat Manchester City 1-0 in early October, with Arteta asked if that game is a reason to show they can pick up big wins against the best.
“Or Manchester United, or Brighton, or when we played last season against Liverpool. We have done it many times,” he replied.
“Tomorrow is a different game. The team is really ready, really prepared and we are looking forward to the game. We know the stadium will be with us and we want those days, where we are challenging, with our supporters, for big things. Tomorrow – and the next days – is a big one.”
Arteta likes Zinchenko-White argument: ‘It’s not Disneyland!’
Arteta defended both Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko after both defenders were seen arguing with each other in the immediate aftermath of Arsenal’s 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.
At the full-time whistle, Zinchenko took issue with White playing Gonzalo Montiel onside in the build-up to Taiwo Awoniyi’s goal late in the game, with Arteta having to intervene with the Gunners left-back at full-time.
Asked how their friendship is now, Arteta said: “You don’t argue with someone you don’t have a great relationship (with). Because you have the trust, the chemistry with somebody to react the way they did.
“I love it. As long as it’s in a respectful way and only with the intention to be better as a team, then I’m happy with that.
“Maybe we have a different understanding of what the word ‘fight’ is. Or a conversation? A little bit heated? Emotional after the game where your heart is at 200 beats an hour? It’s normal, nothing new.
“I want to see passion, commitment of the players and a desire to be better. And to do that, we have to be demanding of each other. It’s not Disneyland!”
Klopp: Every game is must-win to beat Man City to title
Arsenal and Liverpool are not the only clubs aiming for the Premier League this season, with reigning champions Manchester City looking to make it five titles in six years under Pep Guardiola.
With City also five points behind Liverpool, having played a game less, Reds manager Jurgen Klopp believes the title rivals need to win every single game if they want to take the title away from Guardiola’s clutches.
“If you want to beat City, you have to win all your football games, because they do,” Klopp said on Friday.
“This is the league, this is the time. City is dominating. They would consider themselves not playing their best season but they are where they are. They are two points behind us.
“We just try to play the best season we can play. When we face them [in March at Anfield], we have to beat them.
“Arsenal if they beat us, they are definitely there [in the title race]. If not, ask them or anyone else to see what that means.
“You ask these questions, the only problem is we cannot give the answers. We will try to make it as hard as possible to make it difficult for the teams who want to finish the season above us.”
Watch the big title-race game between Arsenal vs Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League this Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm
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