Mikel Arteta will not stop anyone at Arsenal from dreaming about Premier League glory, but the Spaniard wants the Gunners to remain realistic ahead of Tuesday’s huge meeting with Newcastle United.
Arsenal will move 10 points clear of Manchester City at the Premier League summit if they beat the Magpies at the Emirates Stadium, after the champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton on Saturday.
With the Gunners unbeaten in their past 10 league games (W9 D1), belief is beginning to build among supporters that a first title triumph since the 2003-04 season could be on the horizon.
Asked whether he needed to play down talk of the title, Arteta said: “It’s not about stopping anybody. It’s about being realistic about where we are.
“The way we are performing, obviously it’s impressive and we are really happy with that.
“But we also have to set the bars and objectives in the short term for what we want to improve and see what is making us win so many football matches.”
New year. Same focus.
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Saturday’s thrilling 4-2 victory at Brighton and Hove Albion was celebrated in joyous fashion by the Gunners’ players, and Arteta has no qualms about the team enjoying their fine run of form.
“It’s great,” Arteta said. “When I see those interactions, I see the enjoyment and I see joy and happiness because they were really excited after a big win for us.
“But they are also moderate and understanding as well. We still have a lot of things that we have to improve as a team.”
While Arsenal are the only Premier League team with a 100 per cent winning record at home this season (7/7), Newcastle begin 2023 in third place after losing just once all campaign, and Arteta expects a tough test.
“They’re a very good team, really well coached,” Arteta said. “I think what that Eddie [Howe] has done in that short period of time, when you look at the numbers, is incredible.
“Big credit to him and the coaching staff. They have created, I believe, 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 we are looking forward to it.”
Arsenal have won their past 11 home games against Newcastle in all competitions – only against Stoke City (an ongoing run since 1983) have they ever won more consecutive home matches (16).