EPL

Hopeful Arteta on Wenger's title optimism: 'He's been right on many occasions'

By Sports Desk October 07, 2022

Mikel Arteta hopes his Arsenal team can match Arsene Wenger's expectations for this season, as the Gunners great believes his former side have "a good chance" to win the Premier League title.

Arsenal are top after eight matches of the season, a point ahead of champions Manchester City.

Arteta's men may well have been removed from the summit by the time they play again, though, facing Liverpool on Sunday after City play Southampton on Saturday.

Despite City's own imperious form, three-time title-winning manager Wenger told Sky Sports he did not see "any super dominating team", prompting his optimism for Arsenal to claim a first championship since his last success in the 2003-04 campaign.

Responding to Wenger's thoughts ahead of the Liverpool game, Arteta, who played under the Frenchman, said: "Well, it's great obviously that the people who love the club so much and know the club very well have such an opinion about it.

"Now, unfortunately, we have to show it, but you have to do it on the pitch. And hopefully, he's right. He's been right on many occasions."

Arsenal certainly look in better shape than opponents Liverpool, who enter the weekend down in ninth, 11 points off the pace with a game in hand.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has suggested the Reds are a work in progress, but Arteta responded: "Our team is as well.

"I think you always want to get better. You always hear about the weaknesses that you want to improve. Liverpool are a magnificent team."

Indeed, even with Liverpool struggling, Arteta sees this match as a major challenge for his side.

"Every game is the same [opportunity to make a statement]," he said. "Obviously, it's a big match.

"It's a fixture that everybody's looking for, against an opponent that has shown in the last five or six years the level that they have.

"And we have to show those opponents again that we have reached the level and we are ready to compete against them."

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    Paris Saint-Germain star Messi's 21-year association with Barca came to an end in August 2021 as the club could not afford a new deal under LaLiga's financial fair play rules.

    Messi is now into his second season with PSG, but he is out of contract at the end of the campaign and has been linked with a move to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami.

    The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner turns 36 next year and Cruyff hopes to see him back at Camp Nou in the future, though accepts that it may not be in a playing capacity.

    "It's clear Barcelona and Messi have to be together again one day," Cruyff told RAC1. "It may be after his career, but they deserve a final hug, one last dance together."

    Messi scored 672 goals across 778 appearances for Barcelona and provided a further 265 assists, amounting to 937 goal involvements across that trophy-laden spell.

    He featured more times (219) and scored more goals (211) under Pep Guardiola than any other head coach, with the Catalan winning 14 trophies in four seasons at the helm.

    Guardiola has since spent three seasons with Bayern Munich and is into his seventh season with Manchester City, where he remains under contract until July 2025.

    Speaking this week, Guardiola said he would return to Barcelona one day if the club needed him, adding that "nothing is comparable" to managing a club so close to your heart.

    Asked about the possibility of Guardiola managing the Blaugrana again further down the line, Cruyff said: "He's reached the level of being able to choose his own destiny.

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    Belgium lost 2-0 to Morocco in their second Group F game and must now defeat the 2018 finalists to be sure of advancing to the knockout stage.

    The Red Devils' preparation for that fixture has been hampered this week by discussion of a rift within the team, first reported by RTL and L'Equipe.

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    Castagne added the reports had "exaggerated a lot" and he had "seen worse", before Martinez, appearing after the defender at a pre-match news conference, suggested his team now knew they were in Qatar "on our own".

    "For us, nothing changes. The standards come from within," the coach said.

    "We were not happy with our two performances. We got the result in the first game, but we were not happy with our performance.

    "The second game was the first time we lost a game by two goals in a major tournament. You can imagine we were not happy with it. We had to react.

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    "There is more desire to find negative news around this team, rather than getting the nation together, supporting this team, enjoying the talent of the best generation we ever had in Belgian football.

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    Pressed on his suggestion the story had come out of France and been intended to hurt Belgium, Martinez replied: "I've got too many things to do in camp to think about where this story comes.

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    Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said his side would not be "fooled" by the reports around the Belgium team, adding: "I don't have an opinion on them and what's happening there.

    "They are the second-best team in the world. That's all I care about. We are not focusing on any other aspects. We are focusing on Belgium, their quality.

    "They cannot forget overnight how to play football. They are a top-notch team. They're number two, and we're number 12."

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    Bellingham, 19, was considered the top priority for the Spanish giants, but a report from Marca claims they now believe he is destined for the Premier League and will instead focus their resources on 21-year-old Fernandez.

    Fernandez arrived at Benfica in June after they were able to pry him away from River Plate for a deal worth up to €18million including add-ons, but his exploits on the Champions League stage – including assists against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus – have that price looking like a steal.

     

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    Fernandez was handed his international debut as a 20-year-old back in November 2021, and his continued growth on the European stage earned his spot in Argentina's World Cup squad.

    Not content to purely come along for the ride, Fernandez was brought on as a substitute in each of his side's first two group games, and against Mexico he became Argentina's youngest goalscorer at a World Cup since Lionel Messi in 2006.

    His ability to both break into and perform for such a quality international side – entering the tournament on a 35-match unbeaten streak before falling to Saudi Arabia – has reportedly sent Fernandez's transfer value through the roof.

    Marca's report claims he is now viewed as a €100m talent by Benfica, and they expect to field offers in that neighbourhood soon.

     

    ROUND-UP

    – According to Relevo, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag views the Netherlands' World Cup hero Cody Gakpo as his ideal replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.

    – Fichajes is reporting Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are all showing interest in 22-year-old Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus amid his excellent performances for Ghana.

    Bayern Munich remain interested in Tottenham's Harry Kane and are working on an offer between €80-100m, per Sky Sports Germany.

    – The Sun is reporting Chelsea are not happy with both Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga and will look to bring in a new first-choice goalkeeper.

    – With Rafael Leao likely leaving Milan at the end of the season, Gazzetta dello Sport claims they will try to fill the void with RB Salzburg's 22-year-old Swiss international Noah Okafor.

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