EPL

Mikel Arteta has ‘no clue’ how many points Arsenal might need to win title

By Sports Desk March 03, 2024

Mikel Arteta is not setting a points total he believes will deliver the Premier League title – but the Arsenal boss has warned the rest of the season may have to be perfect if they are to do so.

The Gunners travel to bottom club Sheffield United on Monday night knowing victory will once again see them close to within two points of Liverpool at the summit.

Reigning champions Manchester City are also locked in the three-way tussle for the title as Arteta aims to bring the Premier League crown back to Arsenal for the first time in 20 years.

Asked how many points might be required to win the league this season, the Spaniard replied: “You always ask me this question and I never get it right.

“The demands, you might have to win every game. I don’t know. I have no clue.

“There are a lot of games and we are all going to have crazy schedules and this league might be different to last season. Anything under 90 points I think it (winning the league) would be very difficult.

“We have to improve in every aspect, that is all, all managers try to be better in what we do.”

Arsenal were top of the table at this stage last season and led the pack for a total of 248 days before ultimately slipping behind City in the run-in.

“I think we are where we deserve to be,” Arteta said on Arsenal’s current standing.

“We could probably be a little bit better in terms of the points that we have deserved in the league

“Being (back) in the Champions League is another step – that makes obviously the challenge more difficult and the amount of injuries that we had I think we are going good but we want to do better.

“The target is clear. It’s to be better every day so that when it comes to the weekend, earn the right to win and do everything you possibly can to win the game.

“This is the focus and the way I see them training every day gives me  more confidence and more reasons to believe that we have a good chance because they really want it.”

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    The 24-year-old, who struggled in his early appearances after swapping Stamford Bridge for north London in the summer, gave a superb display against his former side as the leaders heaped more misery on visiting manager Mauricio Pochettino, who saw his ninth-place team slump to a worst-ever league defeat against Arsenal.

    Havertz struck twice as part of an 18-minute blitz in the second half as Arteta’s team won for the second time in four days, continuing their recovery from successive losses to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.

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    “For a nine to score two goals the way he scored, his contribution was great. It’s a question for him but I’m sure he’s very pleased.”

    The Arsenal onslaught began after only four minutes, Declan Rice sliding the ball into a channel on the left of the penalty area from where Leandro Trossard took over, dinking past defender Alfie Gilchrist, on his first Premier League start, and thudding it through the legs of Djordje Petrovic.

    Thereafter Chelsea competed gamely, going close to equalising when Axel Disasi just failed to reach a flick-on from a corner and again when Nicolas Jackson’s effort was deflected onto the post by Gabriel, but in the space of under 20 minutes after the interval they fell to pieces.

    First, Ben White reacted quickest to sweep home after Rice’s shot was blocked, then Havertz got his first of the night with a lofted finish over the goalkeeper.

    The former Chelsea forward made it 4-0, his shot pinging in off the post with Petrovic rooted, before White provided the moment of the match with a cross-shot that sailed across the face of goal and in from Martin Odegaard’s pass.

    “It was a big performance, collectively and individually,” said Arteta, whose side moved clear at the top ahead of Sunday’s derby against Tottenham but have played a game more than Liverpool and two more than Manchester City.

    “I thought we were really good, against a really good team that was in great form and were going to ask us a lot of questions. I think we responded really well.

    “From the start we were really determined, really flowing, playing with a lot of courage and making things happen. Really happy with the result. It’s a big day for our supporters.

    “It’s great for us, for the confidence and for the belief that we can do it, we can come to these stages against big teams and win games the way we’ve done it tonight. So enjoy it, then it’s back to work tomorrow because we have a big one on Sunday.”

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    “Now it is difficult to see the future because after this game we feel disappointed,” he said. “It is difficult to talk about objectives.

    “If we compete like Saturday (in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to City), OK. But if we compete like today, I think we deserve to go into Europe? I think in this way, no.”

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    Enzo Maresca praised his Leicester players for the 5-0 thrashing of Southampton that put the Foxes a win away from clinching automatic promotion.

    Ghana winger Abdul Fatawu scored three of them, with Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy also on target.

    Leicester need only to win at Preston on Monday, or at home to Blackburn on the final day, to make sure they will finish ahead of at least one of Leeds or Ipswich. Indeed, if Leeds lose at QPR on Friday Leicester will be up before they take to the field again.

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    Fatawu, on loan from Sporting Lisbon, opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall played him through. The 20-year-old might have been offside but the flag stayed down. Southampton manager Russell Martin was also aggrieved that a challenge on Saints striker Che Adams by City defender Wout Faes was not given as a foul by referee Robert Madley.

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    Saints – famously beaten 9-0 by Leicester in the Premier League in 2019 – must now pick themselves up for the play-offs barring an extraordinary combination of results and scorelines.

    Martin made it clear he would not be doing that for them though, so disappointed was he with their capitulation.

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    “The fans were amazing, they were still clapping at the end and deserved better than that.”

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