Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is not willing to be drawn into mind games with Tottenham counterpart Antonio Conte and is instead focused on getting the most out of his players.

Conte last week stated that Spurs would require "a miracle" to finish fourth place in the Premier League.

Tottenham increased the pressure on Arsenal by hammering Newcastle United 5-1 on Sunday to leapfrog their north London rivals into the final Champions League qualification spot.

However, the Gunners are only behind Tottenham on goal difference and have two games in hand, the first of those coming away at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Conte's comments were perceived as being psychological tactics ahead of a potentially tense run-in that will see the fierce rivals do battle in a rescheduled game.

But Arteta, who was named Manager of the Month for March, is only interested in deploying such tactics internally.

"I don't know if we are favourites [for the top four]," Arteta said. "That is a question for [Conte]. 

"But what we want to do is very clear and the perception of what people think is not going to change it."

When asked if he is a manager who wants to engage in mind games, Arteta replied: "I do it more with my players, I think.

"I do it more with the players, if I have to, to get what I want from them. I can't tell you how I do it because they will know what they are doing and that is the whole point!"

Arsenal have won six of their past seven games ahead of their trip to Palace, who are managed by Gunners midfield legend Patrick Vieira.

Arteta's side have won each of their past five away top-flight matches, which is their best run since a streak of eight in a row between March and September 2013.

That is a remarkable turnaround following their worst start to a Premier League campaign when losing their first three games, and Arteta is confident his young squad can maintain their form.

"There is nothing different; they have already been dealing with [the pressure] for weeks," he said. 

"This is a conversation we have had now for over six to eight weeks, so they have already been through that and have responded really, really well.

"There is nothing new because they have already been doing it and capable of doing it."

Arsenal have lost just one of their past 16 away league games against Palace (W8 D7), though that defeat did come in a Monday game back in April 2017 (3-0).

Mikel Arteta was named the Premier League's Manager of the Month for March, earning his second award of the season.

The Arsenal manager's win was announced on Friday, making him the first Gunners boss to be recognised twice in the same campaign since Arsene Wenger in 2007-08.

Arteta – the Manager of the Month in September after three wins from three games – was rewarded for his side taking nine points from four matches.

Four other teams matched Arsenal's March points haul, including Chelsea and Liverpool – both of whom had 100 per cent records.

But Arteta was chosen ahead of either Thomas Tuchel, who dragged Chelsea through a tumultuous month off the field, or Jurgen Klopp, whose Liverpool team handed Arsenal their only defeat.

Crucially, Arsenal climbed from sixth at the start of March to fourth entering April, leapfrogging West Ham and Manchester United.

Heading into this weekend, Tottenham are now Arsenal's closest top-four rivals in fifth, three points back having played a game more.

Arsenal's next match is at Crystal Palace on Monday, when they will be looking for a sixth consecutive away league win.

The Gunners' existing run of five is their longest since September 2013 (eight) and longest in a single season since May 2002 (also eight).

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta remains uninterested by the other teams in the Premier League's top-four race, insisting it is all in the Gunners' hands.

Arteta's side have lost just one of eight top-flight games since a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at the start of 2022, surging up the table to fourth in the league.

Arsenal are three points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who have played a game more, as they push for Champions League qualification, with their next fixture coming away at Crystal Palace on Monday.

That means Spurs, Manchester United and West Ham will have all played before the Gunners are in action at Selhurst Park, but Arteta does not see the late game as an advantage over his competitors.

"We're going to focus on what we can do. That's the only thing we can control," he told reporters at Thursday's pre-match news conference. 

"Through the TV we can suffer and we can enjoy and there's not much else we can do. What we have to do is win the football matches that we need to achieve what we want and that's all in our hands."

Aaron Ramsdale missed the 1-0 win at Aston Villa last time out, with Bukayo Saka scoring the winner before the teenager withdrew from international duty with England due to COVID-19.

Arteta confirmed Saka has returned to training, but the clash with Patrick Vieira's Palace may come too soon for Ramsdale, who suffered a muscle injury in a 2-0 loss to Liverpool earlier in the month.

"Bukayo is feeling good," he added. "He's training today hopefully if he's still feeling as he was yesterday. Aaron, it's a doubt. He's still feeling not great, he hasn't trained yet so we don't know what he'll be able to do on Monday.

"He wanted to play against Villa but it was a significant injury and he had to take his time and the physios are doing everything they can. We will see more in the next few days when he starts to do real training."

Meanwhile, Takehiro Tomiyasu nears a return from a calf injury that has kept him on the sidelines since early January.

"I think it will be close. He's been training more and more. He has the boys back now, so he will be joining some sessions this week, and let's see how it is," the Spaniard said of Tomiyasu.

The Premier League also announced the reintroduction of five substitutes from the start of next season, a decision that Arteta is glad to see introduced.

"I'm glad that in the end, we have unified the criteria with the whole of Europe," he said on the rule change. "It's now how we do it and how we manage it. There will be some changes because that gives you different opportunities and tactically the chance to make some changes.

"I think the most important thing is that you manage the load of the players much better. Make sure we don't slow the game down too much and I think it's good. It gives the players opportunities to be on the pitch, which is what they want to do.

"The options you are given to change the game, to refresh the game, to change in many different positions which is something you are always restricted to do, and probably the timing of the subs because when you have three the last sub is always in the back of your mind and if you make it too early you can pay the consequences. So that gives you more flexibility."

Tite has issued an apology to Mikel Arteta following reports he was in talks to take a job at Arsenal after the 2022 World Cup. 

The Brazil boss will leave his position with the Selecao when his contract expires after the competition in Qatar at the end of this year. 

It was reported last week that negotiations for Tite to take a job at Emirates Stadium were already under way, but the 60-year-old has categorically denied that is the case. 

Tite branded the information in the media "a lie" and insisted his sole focus is on leading Brazil to a successful campaign in the Middle East. 

"Regarding the information given, my feeling is one of sadness. I'm sad because the information given to the public is a lie. The information is a lie," Tite told a news conference. 

"And the people I represent and who identify with me, rest assured, because I have morals, value my professional activity and know the responsibility of the Brazilian national team. 

"Sorry, Arsenal. Sorry, Arteta. It didn't come from us. There's nothing, absolutely nothing. 

"In a moment of widespread fake news, of information that isn't true, it saddens me. My word is that there is no one, neither me nor Gilmar [Veloz, his agent], who can talk about it." 

Brazil take on Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, and a win would guarantee they finish top of the CONMEBOL standings. 

However, Tite acknowledged his team will have to change their approach due to the "inhumane" conditions at the Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz, which sits at over 3,600 metres above sea level. 

"We always have an expectation, regardless of the adversities we're faced with," said Tite. 

"The team won't be as attacking as in the past few games because it's not possible, it's inhumane, there aren't the conditions for it. 

"There are other strategies [like] keeping possession. Of course, you can't continue with the same rhythm, the pace that we have played with in home games or in normal conditions." 

Bukayo Saka insists Arsenal must "stay humble" despite strengthening their Champions League qualifying hopes with victory over Aston Villa.

The England international netted the only goal – the Gunners' 2,000th in the Premier League – as the visitors consolidated their top-four status, moving four points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United.

Mikel Arteta's side have now recorded five successive away wins in the Premier League for the first time since May 2015, while registering a 13th clean sheet of the campaign – their highest number since 2015-16 (18).

Saka maintained his impressive form on the road, having now been involved in six goals in his last five league appearances away from Emirates Stadium, scoring five and assisting one.

The 20-year-old hailed his team-mates' defensive efforts as they saw out another important win, while urging them to continue to strive for their goals.

"To win today was big. To get the result and three points makes us really happy," Saka told BT Sport. "We started very well. The early goal helped us get into the game, but we need to start finishing games to prevent things from getting too nervy.

"The goal set us up; we created a few chances before and after, but that goal put us in the driving seat.

"The Champions League is the goal, but we've got to stay humble."

Arsenal last appeared in the Champions League in the 2016-17 season, so to return would be a sign the club are moving in a positive direction.

Manager Arteta is taking many plaudits and praised the players who recorded Arsenal's 13th Premier League away win over Villa – the joint-most they have registered over any side in the competition, matching their total against West Ham.

"We talked before the match about the need to be sharp and physical. We controlled the game," Arteta told BT Sport.

"We could have scored more and that is where we have to take the team. We have to put chances away; in the Premier League, you cannot dominate 96 minutes, this is impossible, but I'm really pleased with how we competed in every phase of the play. I'm really proud of the boys.

"They are showing character, courage and quality. You can see the connection they have. It is phenomenal to watch.

"If you want to be a top team, you have to win home and away. We are doing that consistently, and we have to continue. We really want [the top four] and we are going to give it a go."

Mikel Arteta has challenged his Arsenal players to aim for between 90 and 100 goals next season if they are to build on this campaign and challenge for the Premier League title.

Arsenal are well positioned to end their five-season wait for Champions League football as they sit fourth in the English top flight with games in hand on the chasing pack.

The gap on top-two sides Manchester City and Liverpool stands at 19 and 18 points respectively, however, albeit having played one game less than both teams.

Arteta believes a lot of that can be explained by the attacking output of each side, with Arsenal having scored 43 goals so far, compared to 68 for City and 75 for Liverpool.

Arsenal have been tipped to strengthen their squad in the next transfer window, and manager Arteta is fully aware exactly where his team needs improving if they are to push on.

"To be with the top teams this season you need to score 90 to 100 goals at least," he said. "Somehow you need those goals in the team. 

"Don't ask me how, but you need them. They have to come. That contribution, how it's done, you have to find the right pieces to do it. It's non-negotiable."

Arsenal's 43 Premier League goals this season – one of which was an own goal – have come from an expected goals (xG) return of 42.7.

That means the Gunners have scored about as many goals as you would expect from the quality of their shots, netting from a xG of 0.1 per shot.

No Arsenal player has made it to double figures for goals this term in the league ahead of Saturday's trip to Aston Villa, with Emile Smith Rowe their leading scorer on nine.

By comparison, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling (both 10) are into double figures for City, as are Sadio Mane (12), Diogo Jota (13) and Mohamed Salah (20) for Liverpool.

Players of such quality do not come cheaply, but Arteta insisted a goalscorer – or goalscorers – can make all the difference when it comes to challenging for major honours.

"If you look at the history of [successful] football teams, they always have that," he said. "You look at the Barcelona team that won six titles; they scored 100 goals for three years. 

"If you don’t need that then you need to have 30 clean sheets. In the last 11 games, if we can score 11 goals and concede zero we're going to win 11 games. 

"Or we can score 35 and concede, and we're still going to have 33 points. But in a very different way."

Pressed on Arsenal's transfer business in the upcoming window, and whether it was important to continue focusing on youth, Arteta said: "We have to find the right piece. 

"When we find that player, maybe the top priority won't be the age in that position. Maybe in another one, yes. So we'll have to get that right."

Antonio Conte called on Mikel Arteta to remember the postponed clash between Tottenham and Arsenal, after the Gunners' manager fumed at the Premier League schedule.

Arteta vented his frustration after a 2-0 loss to Liverpool on Wednesday, sarcastically thanking the league for their scheduling, which sees Arsenal visit Aston Villa in Saturday's early kick-off.

Arsenal also face Chelsea and Manchester United in quick succession next month, on April 20 and 23, and the Spaniard doubled down on his comments ahead of the clash with Villa.

Arteta suggested "we've been the only team that has been scheduled like that", citing the short turnaround time as a problem for players' welfare heading into the crunch period of the season.

Spurs head coach Conte was quick to remind his north London rival of the situation in January that left Tottenham "extremely surprised" following the postponement of the derby with Arsenal, who were granted a rearrangement due to COVID-19, injuries and the Africa Cup of Nations leaving them with a "depleted squad".

When asked about Arteta's recent comments, Conte told Friday's pre-match news conference: "Arteta should remember the game postponed, Tottenham-Arsenal.

"In general, I think my answer is enough. If someone wants to think about fair or unfair. We postponed the game, Tottenham-Arsenal. I don't forget this. And it's not right to speak about fair or unfair."

Spurs host fellow top-four chasers West Ham on Sunday, currently sitting three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who have played one game fewer.

While Conte believes the meeting with David Moyes' side may be too soon for Oliver Skipp, the Italian hopes to have the midfielder back after the international break.

"About Skippy, I hope to have him after the international break," Conte said. "His pain is getting better and better.

"About Ryan [Sessegnon], we're waiting for weeks to have another scan and then if everything is OK he'll restart training sessions with us."

The former Inter and Chelsea coach was also keen to praise Cristian Romero, who he feels will be a key player with the right guidance.

"Cristian is a player who has to be focused in every moment of a game," he added. "If he's good, he's focused from the start, from the first to last second of the game and he's a really important player for us.

"He has a bit to improve in this situation, to be focused on every moment of the game. Sometimes he gets a yellow card he can avoid. He has to improve in this aspect, to be focused from the start to the end.

"Sometimes you can't explain this in a good manner - you have to shout! But he's a good guy and he understands that what I do is always best for the team and himself.

"He has quality to be a great defender so it's important to find the right way to improve the player."

Mikel Arteta has taken aim at the Premier League again for its scheduling of Arsenal's games ahead of his team's trip to Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Gunners face Villa in the early kick-off, having played Liverpool on Wednesday.

After the 2-0 defeat to Jurgen Klopp's side, Arteta was sarcastic in his response when asked about Arsenal's upcoming fixture schedule that also includes facing Chelsea and Manchester United in quick succession next month (April 20 and 23).

"Thank you so much to the Premier League for doing that," he sarcastically told reporters on Wednesday.

"And they've done it again when we have to play Chelsea and Manchester United. So if they want to give them any advantage, I say to them today: 'Thank you so much for doing that'."

Speaking at a media conference ahead of the Villa game, Arteta reiterated his stance, saying that it is only his team who have been "scheduled like that".

When asked if he stood by his comments, he replied: "I do because I'm talking about the Premier League. I heard some comments about mixing up being away in Europe and how it's nothing new.

"It's nothing new to me, but I'm not complaining about Europe, I'm complaining about the Premier League and how you schedule games in the Premier League. When you are in Europe, it's a different story. What I'm comparing is the Premier League and it's very difficult.

"We've been the only team that has been scheduled like that."

Arteta later clarified: "The first thing is to protect the players. We have mentioned many times 'can we please avoid doing Wednesday night and Saturday morning' and travelling and all those kind of things. I understand that they have the commitments and the TV, we all understand that.

"If you do it once, okay, but don't do it twice because we still have to [play] Spurs, what are we going to do? Are we going to do it for a third time? Are we going to be the only ones to do it? You can accept that but you don't want to be silly either."

Arteta also had words of praise for his opposite number on Saturday, Steven Gerrard. The former Liverpool midfielder moved to Villa from Rangers earlier in the season, where he had enjoyed success, and where Arteta himself used to play.

"I think he's done very, very well [as a manager]," he said. "What he did at Rangers is remarkable and I don't know if he gets the credit that he should because I played there and I know how that club works.

"How he turned it around and what he's doing at Villa. I think so far he's done really well."

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has hit out at the Premier League's fixturing ahead of a busy period of catch-up games for the Gunners.

The Gunners suffered a dent in their top-four hopes on Wednesday after going down 2-0 at home to second-placed Liverpool.

The Spanish boss was sarcastic in his response when asked about Arsenal's upcoming logjam of fixtures that includes a fast turnaround to play Aston Villa in the league at lunchtime on Saturday, before facing Chelsea and Manchester United in quick succession next month (April 20 and 23).

“Thank you so much to the Premier League for doing that," Arteta told reporters.

"And they’ve done it again when we have to play Chelsea and Manchester United. So if they want to give them any advantage, I say to them today: ‘Thank you so much for doing that’.”

He added: “No [the Premier League wouldn't change the schedule]. It is always it’s BT, it’s Sky, it is this, it’s that. But the one that is affected is Arsenal and the only thing that I care [about] and we care [about] is Arsenal. And for Arsenal it is not fair.”

Arsenal are currently fourth on the table with 51 points from 27 games, while United are fifth on 50 points but having played two more games.

Arteta insisted his players would be ready for Saturday's test against the Villans despite the turnaround as they seek to put ground on United in the race for the top four.

"Yes, 100 percent, don’t worry the players will be there on Saturday with the energy," he said.

"They will sleep, eat well, but thank you so much to the Premier League for putting the fixtures like this, it’s very, very helpful."

On the Liverpool loss, Arteta said the difference was being clinical in attack, with both sides having nine shots each and the Reds edging possession 52-48 percent.

Martin Odegaard fluffed a golden opportunity after a Liverpool turnover in defence, while the Reds capitalised on their chances with goals from Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino.

"It was the difference today. I don’t think there was any other difference apart from that," Arteta said.

"I think we have closed that gap a lot, but it wasn’t enough because when we went through that door and they went through that door, they scored two goals.

"I’m not happy with the goals that we conceded, but it’s part of the game and when you have those chances you have to take them to get something out of it."

Mikel Arteta dismissed the suggestion he is interested in taking the Paris Saint-Germain job, insisting he is committed to Arsenal.

Arteta has been among those managers linked with potentially taking over at the Parc des Princes should Mauricio Pochettino leave at the end of the season.

Pochettino's time in the French capital has been somewhat underwhelming so far, with PSG crashing out of the Champions League last week after capitulating against Real Madrid.

Meanwhile, Arteta, who spent a season on loan at PSG from Barcelona in 2001-02, seems to have finally bedded in his methods at Arsenal, with the Gunners in pole position to secure a top-four spot and Champions League qualification.

Asked about the rumours ahead of Wednesday's clash with title challengers Liverpool, Arteta said: "Very simple, that I am extremely happy here and I'm grateful that it's where I am."

Arteta's team face a stern test of their quality against Jurgen Klopp's team, who have won their last eight Premier League matches.

Arsenal, however, have won their last five, joining Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea as the only other top-flight teams to manage such a run of victories in the competition so far this season.

Since losing their opening home game of the Premier League season, Arsenal have only lost one of their following 13 league games at Emirates Stadium this term (W10 D2), but Arteta knows the standards must remain high.

"This is never going to stop, this is a constant revolution," he added.

"In the history of the Premier League, there never existed this level of playing and competition so we don't know where that limit is so every plan that we do is with players and people with the mentality that this is going to keep the will going, that this is never going to be good enough and to do that you need to get people that are aligned with this ambition."

While Arsenal head into their contest with Liverpool in good form, recent history is not on their side. They were hammered 4-0 at Anfield in November and lost to the Reds over two legs in their EFL Cup semi-final.

Arsenal's record against the other "big six" sides this season is also disappointing, with only three points taken from six such fixtures so far – that win coming against north London rivals Tottenham. Indeed, the Gunners have conceded 17 goals in those matches, scoring just six times in return.

Jurgen Klopp has praised Mikel Arteta's work since taking over at Arsenal, with the Liverpool boss stating that he sees similarities between the Spaniard's tenure and his own start on Merseyside.

The Gunners have overcome a slow start to the 2021-22 campaign to emerge as top-four favourites, having embarked upon a five-game win streak matched by only their rivals near the summit.

Arteta has drawn praise for his dynamic style of football, and speaking ahead of the pair's Premier League clash on Wednesday, Klopp indicated he sees a kindred spirit in his fellow manager.

"I can’t even remember their start [to the season], I just see them playing now," the German stated. "They have a clear structure, clear idea, properly tuned, possession-based, young, full of talent and joy.

"If you go through the line-up there's an experienced striker and then three very exciting young boys and then a bit more experience in the double six and then a pretty inexperienced backline and a young goalkeeper, and that's not with [Emile] Smith Rowe even in, and then on top of the other guys, it’s interesting.

"Other teams will not like it because it's another big name back on track but that's how it looks

"There are similarities [to us], you can say it like this, they're a massive club and qualification for European football in the last few years is not exactly how they wanted it.

"If they get Champions League this year, it will feel as good [as it did] for us the first time. A step in the right direction, an exciting team.

"Arsenal fans, maybe since I was in England it was not always easy for them to enjoy. But they seem to be now and that's exactly how it should be."

Klopp will face a fortress when he travels to north London this week, with Arsenal having lost just once at home in the Premier League since an opening weekend loss to Chelsea.

But he does not yet know whether he'll be able to call upon Mohamed Salah following the latter's injury against Brighton and Hove Albion, though the forward's issue is less serious than feared.

"Mo is a tough cookie," he added. "We were quite lucky with it. It was sore and painful, yesterday a bit less swollen and less painful.

"Now I have got a message that Mo is ready to train and we will see how that looks."

Arsenal must be at their "very best" if they hope to defeat Liverpool in the Premier League, says Mikel Arteta, with the Spaniard hailing the Reds as "the best team in England".

The Gunners welcome Jurgen Klopp's title-chasers to Emirates Stadium for a crucial crash that could shape both of their respective seasons.

Liverpool will fulfil their game in hand on champions Manchester City and could move a point behind them with victory, while a win for Arsenal would further consolidate their top-four spot.

Arsenal have not played in the Champions League since the 2016-17 season and are desperate to return, and Wednesday's fixture might prove something of a litmus test as to just where the Gunners are at. Indeed, Arsenal went into the reverse fixture at Anfield in November on the back of a fine run of form yet were hammered 4-0.

"We are facing arguably the best team in England and have to be at our best to beat them," Arteta told a news conference.

"You face a team that dominates every single aspect of the game, so when that happens, you have to be at your very best."

On their prospects of securing a top-four finish, Arteta cautioned Arsenal about getting ahead of themselves, adding: "There still is a long way to go.

"There are better teams in the country because that's what the league table shows. We haven't done anything yet.

"What we are doing is trying to improve. We understand better what we want – being much more consistent in performance and results, and nothing else."

With the international break set to follow this weekend's fixtures, several Arsenal players are expected to be called up for their national teams, including England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

The shot-stopper was the hero against Leicester City at the weekend with another strong performance and was hailed by opposite manager Brendan Rodgers as the best goalkeeper in the country at the moment.

Arteta doubled down on that praise, adding: "Thanks to Brendan for thinking that way. Aaron has to take those words to give him confidence.

"He's been exceptional since the day we signed him, not only on the pitch, but what he transmitted, what he brought to the building, to the club."

Mikel Arteta acknowledged that Arsenal playing in Europe next season "changes a lot" to attract transfer targets and he is demanding more from his in-form side.

Arsenal have taken 25 points from their last 30 available to them in the Premier League (W8 D1 L1) – no side has earned more points over their past 10 top-flight games – to leave them fourth in the league.

The Gunners, who are a point ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United and have played three games fewer, host Leicester City on Sunday as they search for a fifth straight league victory.

But Arteta warned his players that they must further extend their winning run to compete with the top teams, while he commented on how potential signings will be impacted by Arsenal's position come the end of the season.

"To be with the top teams you have to win consistently and do it in a convincing way," he told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"I need even more than that amount of victories [four in a row] because there are teams in this league who do that for 10, 11, 12 or 18 times, so still the margin is pretty big."

On any potential transfer dealings, he added: "There are two things: the amount of games that you have to play and the amount of players you need in the squad.

"The players you are losing or retaining in that squad, and then the [players] that are available, which playing in the European competitions changes a lot."

Arsenal appear favourites to secure the last spot in England's top four, but Arteta insists he is taking each game as it comes heading into a crucial period of the campaign.

"I don't know, the only matter for me is how we train tomorrow and how we play on Sunday," he responded when asked if his side were top-four favourites. 

"The rest, this is football and it's so unpredictable: nobody knows what can happen. Our only focus is on performing and winning matches."

Stand-in captain Alexandre Lacazette, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has provided more assists than any other Arsenal player in the Premier League this campaign (seven).

His two assists in the 3-2 win at Watford last time out took him to 100 goal involvements in all competitions in his Arsenal career (70 goals, 30 assists in 196 games), and Arteta has been pleased with the Frenchman, whose contract will be discussed in the close season.

"We have discussions as you know and at the end of the season, once we know where we are, we will make a decision altogether," Arteta said of Lacazette's situation. 

"I don't want anyone to think about something else that is not that. The decision, we agreed, is to do it in the summer and we're going to do it as soon as the season is finished.

On his lack of goals, Arteta responded: "I think he’s been very close and that’s why we have to keep pushing him and giving him support that he plays with that confidence and hopefully on Sunday he can do it."

The Arsenal boss has also been impressed with Lacazette's fellow attacker, Gabriel Martinelli, who has stepped up after the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona in January.

"Gabi is playing in a different position because Auba certainly in the last few months played as a nine, but Gabi has shown big signs of where he’s moving," he continued. 

"Certainly the capacity that he has to score goals and be a threat in the final third and I think his contribution all around in his game has been exceptional. He totally deserves the amount of minutes that he’s been playing."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hailed Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard's quality after both scored in a thrilling 3-2 win at Watford.

Saka and Odegaard netted terrific first-half goals before Gabriel Martinelli added a third after the break, although replies from Watford's Cucho Hernandez and Moussa Sissoko ensured a nervy ending for the Gunners.

Arsenal, who are chasing a first top-four finish since 2016, have won four consecutive Premier League games, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Saka and Odegaard, who combined for the Norwegian's opener.

Saka has now posted 13 goal contributions in the Premier League this season (eight goals and five assists). Among players aged 21 and younger in the five big European leagues, only Bayer Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz, with 17, has more than the England man.

Although Arteta was frustrated with Arsenal's defensive lapses at Vicarage Road, he was keen to highlight how the duo's understanding has impacted the Gunners' attacking displays.

"We were really good going forward, and we had all the right intention and the energy to do it," Arteta said. "We scored three magnificent goals, but we didn't have the same energy and commitment defensively. When that happens, you're going to suffer."

Arteta is impressed by how Arsenal are moving the ball and finding reliable links between key personnel.

He said: "The speed of the movement, the timing of it is much better, the position that we get [into], the threat and the sense of having the capacity to create the chances that we have done is much better, and we have to keep developing that."

Arteta also highlighted Saka's penalty shootout miss in the Euro 2020 final last July as a key moment in the winger's development, as the England star continued his fine campaign with a superb strike against the Hornets.

"Bukayo had an experience in the summer that not a lot of players would ever have, and I think it was great for his career, because the football world showed how much they like him and how much they respect him," Arteta said.

"I think that was a big boost for him to realise in difficult moments that people are going to give him support. Then it's about leaving him that space [to develop]. What he is already doing is phenomenal and he needs that room, you know? Don't read too much, do what you do."

Saka, along with team-mates Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe, is one of three Gunners players aged 21 or younger to have hit five or more Premier League goals this campaign.

That is a single-season feat for a team which has only been accomplished by three others in the competition's history: Chelsea in 2019-20, Leeds United in 1998-99, and Manchester United in 1995-96.

Arsenal boosted their Premier League top-four hopes with a 3-2 win at Watford, as Bukayo Saka starred in a match containing five terrific goals.

Martin Odegaard opened the scoring when he capped a scintillating move on five minutes, before Watford's Cucho Hernandez went one better with a fantastic overhead kick after 11 minutes.

The lively Saka finished into the top corner after half an hour, before Gabriel Martinelli wrapped up the three points by finishing sweetly from outside the area after the break – although Moussa Sissoko's late response did keep the Gunners on their toes.

Prior to Manchester United's derby against Manchester City later on Sunday, Arsenal moved up to fourth in their pursuit of Champions League qualification for the first time since 2016.

Watford had the ball in the net after just 17 seconds in a frantic opening, but Emmanuel Dennis was narrowly offside and the visitors took an early lead instead, with Odegaard finishing neatly on his left foot after playing a superb give-and-go with Saka.

The Hornets needed just six minutes to respond, however, as Hernandez met Kiko Femenia's right-wing cross in acrobatic style to give Aaron Ramsdale little chance.

After Ramsdale almost spilled Dennis' shot to Joao Pedro, Arsenal reclaimed the lead when Saka bent a shot into the top corner from Alexandre Lacazette's backheel.

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