EPL

Mikel Arteta prepares Arsenal for ‘most beautiful part of the season’

By Sports Desk April 02, 2024

Mikel Arteta accepts Arsenal may have to win each of their nine remaining Premier League fixtures to be crowned champions as he prepares for the “most beautiful part of the season”.

The second-placed Gunners sit two points behind leaders Liverpool ahead of a hectic April schedule following Sunday’s dogged goalless draw at title rivals Manchester City.

Manager Arteta, who also has a two-legged Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich to consider, wants his players to embrace the challenge, beginning on Wednesday evening at home to relegation-threatened Luton.

“It’s going to have to be really close to that,” he replied when asked if Arsenal need a 100 per cent record from now on to finish top of the table.

“When you see the level and the consistency of the other teams and historically what is needed to win in this league, it’s not going to be very far from that.

“This is where we want to be and now we want to take this opportunity and make it happen.

“We worked every single day with that enthusiasm and passion to make it happen and enjoying the moment as well.

“I see the team really flowing and they are really excited about playing each game and that has to drive this energy until the end.

“I am full of energy and it’s the most beautiful part of the season.”

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    Arblaster, making only his fifth Premier League start, held his head in his hands after inadvertently turning the ball past goalkeeper Ivo Grbic in the second half.

    Substitute Frank Onyeka added a second with time ticking down on both the match and the Blades’ stay in the top flight.

    Another defeat – their 22nd of the season – leaves Chris Wilder’s men 10 points adrift of safety with only six games remaining.

    To rub salt in the wounds of a chastening campaign, Sheffield United found out this week that a two-point deduction awaits them upon their now almost-inevitable drop into the Championship.

    United’s only real hope of a second away win of the season was by getting Ben Brereton Diaz and Ollie McBurnie up the pitch.

    They managed it in the opening stages when Brereton Diaz raced through but his weak, left-footed finish was blocked by Bees goalkeeper Mark Flekken.

    Brereton Diaz had a better chance when he cut inside Vitaly Janelt onto his favoured right foot, but his attempted curler flew too high.

    Other than that Brentford, by no means out of the relegation picture themselves, were utterly dominant.

    But, with Ivan Toney on the bench for the second match running, they were lacking a cutting edge in front of goal.

    Sergio Reguilon headed an early Mads Roerslev cross over and Yanelt sidefooted the ball straight into the arms of Grbic.

    Brentford’s best chance of the first half arrived nine minutes before the break and it was all of Sheffield United’s making.

    Auston Trusty’s ball out from the back was straight to Bryan Mbeumo, who quick as a flash sent Neal Maupay through on goal.

    But the French striker was stretching as he prodded the ball past the onrushing Grbic and it rolled agonisingly wide of the post.

    Brentford had the ball in the net early in the second half but Mathias Jorgensen was clearly offside when he poked Mathias Jensen’s free-kick in.

    But they made the breakthrough just after the hour mark when Mbeumo fed Mikkel Damsgaard down the right.

    The Denmark midfielder charged forward and attempted a low cross towards Maupay, only for the unfortunate Arblaster to stick out a leg and turn the ball into his own net.

    Moments later, Mbeumo’s free-kick across the edge of the penalty area was volleyed home first time by Damsgaard, only for a VAR check to spot a foul on McBurnie by Nathan Collins.

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  • Morgan Gibbs-White goads Wolves fans as Nottingham Forest settle for draw Morgan Gibbs-White goads Wolves fans as Nottingham Forest settle for draw

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    With his back to goal, Yates passed straight to Joao Gomes, whose curled shot beat Matz Sels but was heroically cleared off the line by Murillo.

    The goal was gaping as the ball fell straight to Pablo Sarabia from the rebound but he dragged his shot wide.

    Wolves did go ahead in the 40th minute with a brilliant solo effort by Cunha.

    He ran his marker Andrew Omobamidele all the way down the left flank into the penalty area, then turned him superbly, cut inside Yates, and fired an unstoppable effort into the top corner.

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    Gibbs-White found space at the near post from Reyna’s corner and glanced into the far corner before enjoying his celebration.

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    Erling Haaland added Luton to his collection to ensure he has still scored against every opponent he has faced in the Premier League.

    Here, the PA news agency looks at the prolific Norway international’s Manchester City record.

    Full house

    Chelsea, Liverpool and Brentford were the only teams not to concede to Haaland in his astonishing debut season in England, when he won the Premier League Golden Boot with 36 goals in 33 games.

    He ticked off Chelsea and Liverpool in successive league games either side of November’s international break and, having failed to score in this season’s first meeting with the Bees, had to wait until February’s postponed return fixture to complete the set of 21 opponents he had faced.

    Having missed December’s fixture against Luton while injured, they were not among that number – despite February’s five-goal FA Cup onslaught – so his penalty in Saturday’s 5-1 win extended his perfect record to 22 opponents.

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    Favourite opponents

    Haaland’s highest Premier League tally against any opponent is six goals, against derby rivals Manchester United. He followed up last season’s hat-trick at the Etihad Stadium with a double at Old Trafford and another home goal this term.

    Fulham and Crystal Palace follow, with five goals in three games against each, with hat-tricks at home to Palace last season and Fulham this.

    He has four goals in three games against each of Everton, Nottingham Forest, West Ham and Wolves, with hat-tricks against Forest and Wolves last season.

    He has three against both Brighton and Southampton and has scored in every league appearance against Fulham, Everton, West Ham, Palace (three games each, with Fulham and West Ham still to play again this season), Saints (two games), Leicester and Sheffield United (one).

    Record books

    Harry Kane also scored against every Premier League opponent he faced, a total of 32 clubs, during his time with Tottenham – a brief loan at Norwich early in his career did not yield any of his eventual 213 goals in the competition.

    Frank Lampard holds the record for scoring Premier League goals against the most clubs overall, with his 39 one more than Andy Cole, but neither player scored against every opponent they faced.

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