Mikel Arteta did not quite envisage Eddie Nketiah could perform to the level he has done for Arsenal this season but backed a player with "a real Arsenal heart and spirit".

Nketiah is now Arsenal's leading scorer this season with nine goals in all competitions, having netted twice in Sunday's 3-2 defeat of Manchester United.

He has four in the Premier League despite only starting five matches – averaging a goal every 147 minutes – after beginning the season as back-up to Gabriel Jesus, who was then injured at the World Cup.

Arteta had faith in Nketiah to step up but acknowledged there was little prior evidence of the "incredible" standard to which the striker is now playing.

"What Eddie's doing is incredible," Arteta said. "We cannot say we saw that [coming] – we were hoping that he could do that, because of the way he is, because of his mentality, because of his qualities and how those qualities fit within the team.

"Losing Gabby was a big blow, and it is a big blow today, but Eddie's responding – and the team – in an exceptional way."

Asked just what he had seen in Nketiah, Arteta replied: "The qualities that he has, how much he wants it, how much belief he has in himself to become Arsenal's number nine, his desire, his background.

"We are with him every single day. He's a special kid, so loved by everybody at the football club.

"He's got a real Arsenal heart and spirit within him, and that's special. You cannot put that into numbers, but he is really, really good."

Nketiah had six shots against United and it looked as though he might have passed up the opportunity to earn a dramatic victory when he was denied by David de Gea six minutes before his last-gasp winner.

But Arteta explained Nketiah's mindset: "The next time he's going to try again.

"He's going to miss chances, and he's going to miss more chances, for sure, but I guarantee you that the next one he's going to try to do it again. He's not going to hide."

With Nketiah keeping Arsenal on track at the top of the table, they have earned a club-record 50 points in a first half of the season Arteta described as "extraordinary".

But the Arsenal manager is not yet content with their progress, believing they remain some way behind defending champions Manchester City, who are five points off the pace.

"I know my team so well," Arteta said. "I know where we are, I know why we are here, I know where we want to be. We are still far from that.

"And I know the level of the other teams – especially one that has won everything in the last five or six years. We are not there yet."

Mikel Arteta revelled in Arsenal's 90th-minute winner against Manchester United on Sunday, explaining the dramatic nature of the victory made it all the more special.

Arsenal restored a five-point gap to second-placed Manchester City in the Premier League by beating United 3-2 at Emirates Stadium.

It looked as though Arteta's men would drop points for only the fourth time this season before Eddie Nketiah scored in the final minute of normal time.

Arsenal had earlier trailed to United, who remain the only team to have beaten the leaders in the league this season.

Nketiah cancelled out Marcus Rashford's opener, but Bukayo Saka's subsequent strike was similarly met with a response from Lisandro Martinez, setting the stage for a memorable decisive goal.

"It was emotional, a lot of passion, a lot of quality," Arteta told Sky Sports.

"It doesn't get much better than that – after the derby away, to come here against this team and play the way we played, with the performance all over the game and especially in the second half, it was incredible.

"To win it in that way makes it even better."

Arsenal had 25 shots to United's six, but they had to stay patient as Nketiah's second goal came with the last attempt of the match.

"I think mentally and emotionally, we were really composed but really determined at the same time," Arteta added. "We managed those moments in the game really well.

"We never panicked, kept believing, kept doing the same things even better than before, and we believed that at the end we could win it."

Arsenal moved on to 50 points, their best return through 19 matches in a Premier League season. They are only the fifth side to reach that mark at this stage.

Still, Arteta is guarded against complacency.

"It's great," he said. "I think we deserve to be where we are because of the way we are playing, but don't get confused – it's about what we do tonight and tomorrow.

"There are still a lot of things we can do much better. There are still big matches."

Mikel Arteta has called on Arsenal to relish the physical side of Sunday's meeting with old rivals Manchester United, as the Gunners look to maintain their lead at the Premier League summit.

Arsenal hold a five-point advantage over Manchester City – who host Wolves on Sunday – at the top of the table, while they also have a game in hand over the defending champions.

A win over United would represent a huge step towards Arsenal's fourth Premier League title triumph – and their first since an era in which they routinely battled the Red Devils for major honours. 

Several meetings between Arsene Wenger's Arsenal and Alex Ferguson's United boiled over as the teams competed for Premier League dominance at the turn of the century, and Arteta says his men must also relish the dirty work in their quest for the title.

"Having that balance and having those qualities in the squad is necessary," Arteta said. "To have the mentality and capacity to control emotions when you play on big stages is very necessary.

"The physical aspect is necessary. Without that, you cannot compete over 11 months in the conditions in which we work. We have tried to build a team that has everything."

Asked whether Arsenal have the resilience to avoid ceding ground to a City side with experience of chasing down their competitors, Arteta added: "We haven't done it in many years.

"To be in the title race, it's something that we have to show we can do. Words mean nothing. We have to do it on the pitch."

While Arsenal have won five of their last seven home league games against United (D1, L1), Erik ten Hag's men are the only team to beat the Gunners in the Premier League this season.

With Arsenal looking to avenge September's 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford, Arteta is braced for a unique atmosphere, saying: "I'm talking to the boys to understand what we're going to experience on Sunday. 

"For us it's very meaningful, for our fans it's very meaningful and we are creating special atmospheres in the stadium. We have to take advantage of that, for sure."

Despite Arsenal's long-running rivalry with United, Sunday's fixture will represent just the third time they have hosted the Red Devils in the Premier League while top of the table.

Both of the two previous such meetings finished level – 1-1 in March 2004 and 2-2 in November 2007.

Mikel Arteta credited Erik ten Hag for overseeing a rapid transformation in Manchester United's fortunes ahead of Arsenal's huge Premier League clash with the Red Devils on Sunday.

Arsenal hold a five-point lead at the Premier League summit ahead of facing United, who remain the only team to beat the Gunners in the competition this season, winning 3-1 at Old Trafford in September.

While United's hopes of entering the title race appear slim following Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace, the Red Devils are fancied to finish in the top four after going unbeaten in their past six Premier League games (W5 D1).

Having instigated a dramatic turnaround of his own at Emirates Stadium, Arteta has been impressed by Ten Hag's work at Old Trafford.

"It's very impressive. He's turned things around pretty quickly," Arteta said at Friday's pre-match press conference. 

"I think he has implemented a very clear way of playing. The players have bought into it and there's a really good energy around the place. 

"A lot of things have changed in a short period of time, so credit to him and the coaching staff for what they have done."

While United's in-form attacker Marcus Rashford has been involved in eight goals in his 10 Premier League starts against Arsenal, Arteta knows he will not be the only threat to his team on Sunday.

"It's not only him, unfortunately," Arteta said when asked how he would look to contain Rashford. "It's a lot of individuals and the collective organisation that they have. 

"We have to be very aware of that. I will try to do that. We prepare for games to try to hide the ways they have to create problems for us."

United were dealt a huge blow ahead of their trip to north London as midfield enforcer Casemiro received his fifth yellow card of the Premier League season at Palace, earning him a one-match ban.

However, Arteta noted the Brazil international did not start when United overcame Arsenal earlier in the season, adding: "It's something that we can't control. 

"He didn't play in our first game either and we still didn't do enough to win that match. When you look at the squad they have, it's incredible. 

"They have the individuals and collective organisation to beat any opponent in this league, but we'll plan the game knowing he's not available."

Meanwhile, Arsenal's bid for a first league title since the 2003-2004 season has seen skipper Martin Odegaard assume a central role, scoring a team-high eight Premier League goals.

Asked about Odegaard's development since he became captain last July, Arteta said: "He's done it in a very natural way. He's still a really young player with huge talent, but still with more desire than talent.

"He knows he can get much better and he's on that pathway, enjoying playing for us and contributing to the team in a really impactful way. He needs to continue to do that."

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is confident Leandro Trossard can make an "immediate impact" as he prepares to give the Belgian his debut against Manchester United on Sunday.

Trossard signed a long-term deal, which is thought to run until 2027, at Emirates Stadium on Friday after completing a reported £27million move from Brighton and Hove Albion.

The 28-year-old Belgium international had been keen to leave Brighton following a falling-out with coach Roberto De Zerbi, who criticised the winger's attitude earlier this month after taking him out of the team.

Arsenal acted swiftly to bring Trossard to the club after missing out on primary target Mykhaylo Mudryk last week, with the Ukraine winger joining Chelsea instead.

While Gunners fans had been eager for Mudryk to join, there is a perception Trossard represents less risky business given his Premier League experience and that he cost roughly a third of what Chelsea paid to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Arteta expects Trossard to adapt quickly, and confirmed he is in line to face Manchester United on Sunday, with the north Londoners hoping to open an 11-point gap between themselves and Erik ten Hag's men in third.

"Well, he trained today [Friday], so hopefully he will be [available on Sunday]. Yes. I think [all the paperwork is done], I think he's good to go," Arteta told reporters.

"He's a player we followed for a while now. The opportunity came, we have the necessity, obviously, to have a player in the frontline that is versatile enough to play in different positions.

"He knows the league, has enough experience here, and I think he can have an immediate impact in the team.

"In the summer we were looking for a player in that position and we were unable to do it. It's something this squad needed, obviously with the injuries of Gabby [Gabriel Jesus] and Reiss [Nelson].

"We are really short in the front line and we needed reinforcements, and we found in Leandro a player who fits everything we want."

The signing of Trossard, given his age, marks a departure from Arsenal's recent transfer policy of focusing on young players.

However, with Arsenal leading the Premier League and hoping to win their first title since 2004, Arteta emphasised how crucial he felt it was to bring in a player who would be able to give them what they need straight away.

"Very important, we have to think short term but also medium and long term, and I think he gives all that," Arteta said.

"He's a very intelligent player. When you look at his career, what he's done in the last few years, he's a player who fits our way of playing, for sure, and we are happy to have him."

Trossard will have found a familiar face in the Arsenal changing room, with Arteta's assistant Albert Stuivenberg formerly the player's coach at Genk.

The Dutchman was able to provide a glowing reference of Trossard's character, even if De Zerbi's recent criticism of his attitude might have caused concern among fans.

"Albert gave me a really, really good reference, but not for now, for a few years [ago]," Arteta said.

"We talk about everything that is connected, about players we know we want to recruit because character is something crucial, but as well to understand how they are, how they behave, whether they can accept the role they're going to have at the club with us, and then personal conversations. Obviously they are very important as well."

Mikel Arteta felt Arsenal "went another step" after a crucial derby victory over Tottenham moved the Gunners eight points clear of Manchester City.

Hugo Lloris inexplicably turned into his own net before Martin Odegaard powered into the bottom-right corner as Arsenal's first-half dominance propelled them to a 2-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

That left Arsenal with an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League, their biggest advantage in the top-flight table when playing the same number of games as the side below since the final day of the 2003-04 season, when they won the title by 11 points.

Having completed their first league double over Tottenham and first victory at their fierce rivals since the 2013-14 season, Arteta believes his side displayed their title credentials with a pivotal performance.

The Arsenal manager told Sky Sports: "I loved the way we played and the courage we showed to come here and play.

"Doing our job we can make a lot of people happy, and I'm sure we've made Arsenal fans very happy. Everything we ask, they are so willing to try and do.

"They are a terrific group of players. I think today we went another step. We won last season in big stadiums, but the way we won today was really pleasing to watch.

"It shows not only determination and courage but you have to have the belief and quality to do it against this team. That is absolutely down to the players.

"We were really aggressive. We were really intense against the high press. We won so many balls and duels. They created some openings, they are a dangerous team, but we did a lot of good work."

Erik ten Hag's in-form Manchester United, who are nine points behind the leaders, follow on January 22 at Emirates Stadium in what could prove to be a decisive clash in the title race.

Arsenal may have hoped to have Mykhaylo Mudryk to call upon for that game but the Ukraine international instead opted to join Chelsea, who reportedly paid £89million (€100m) to sign the 22-year-old from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Arteta, though, preferred to focus on the quality at his disposal.

"I am very proud to have the players we have. We always want to try to improve the squad," he said. "The club are the first to try and improve the players we have.

"We have to have some discipline and be consistent in the targets we have. We can make the players better – let's focus on that.

"We had some injuries, long-term injuries and it's not helpful but we can focus on tomorrow. Train better, train better and review the game. We will try to improve the team.

"There are always a few parties involved. The club are willing and they have my support and I have their support."

Hungry and humble. That was how Mikel Arteta described Arsenal after October's north London derby victory at Emirates Stadium.

Tottenham have been less humble, more humbled, by their meetings with the Gunners this season, and Sunday's 2-0 home defeat made Spurs the victims of a first Gunners double in the north London derby since 2013-14.

With Arteta, Arsenal have a manager who understands his players, who draws the very best from them, and who might be just about halfway to a remarkable Premier League title.

In return, Arsenal's players get all the praise under the sun, but they are asked to stay focused, and duly they obey their Spanish leader.

When Arteta and captain Martin Odegaard demanded the players walk away from a post-match disturbance, away they went, to celebrate in front of their own supporters at the other end of the pitch.

This was Arsenal's first victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, they lead the Premier League by eight points after 18 games, and they have an awful lot to celebrate before putting on their next game face.

A fan in a Tottenham section appeared to aim a kick at Arsenal goalkeeper Ramsdale seconds after the full-time whistle, climbing on pitchside railings to do so before scampering away pathetically, oblivious to the existence of television cameras.

That buffoon will doubtless get his comeuppance and Spurs themselves may face FA sanctions. It was a sorry and needless way for the game to end from a Tottenham perspective, and it had already been plenty grim enough.

Ramsdale played his own brilliant role in a fine Arsenal victory, while opposite number Hugo Lloris had a nightmare, with his own goal setting the visitors on their way.

Arsenal won 3-1 at home in October to consolidate their early hold on top spot, when a fumble from Lloris in the first game allowed Gabriel Jesus to put the hosts 2-1 ahead.

Arteta said after that game: "It is a really hungry and humble team, believe me. We know where we are. There is nothing that we have done yet, and there are still a lot of things to improve, and that's the direction that we are taking."

His message still stands. The title is a long way off, but Arsenal do not look like a team about to implode.

Here, Arsenal nudged their way ahead in the 14th minute, with Bukayo Saka's cross from the right taking an inconvenient nick off Ryan Sessegnon before former France captain Lloris juggled it over the line in shambolic fashion.

Son Heung-min probably should have put Spurs level three minutes later, but Ramsdale made himself big to block the South Korean's shot after Sessegnon's clever pass.

A stunning volley from Thomas Partey left the right post shaking in the 25th minute as Arsenal moved in for the kill, and Odegaard was lethal from 25 yards in the 36th minute, sending a scorching low shot inside the right post as Lloris – him again – failed to get across to the skidding ball.

Arsenal looked light years ahead of their hosts in terms of their use of the ball, slowly strangling all life out of Tottenham.

Grant Xhaka completed all 32 passes he played in the first half. Often simple, each time those passes kept Tottenham off the ball.

Curiously, Tottenham's 43.82 per cent share of the ball in the first half was their highest in a Premier League home game this season, but they were rarely hurting Arsenal.

Odegaard's goal took him to eight for the season, making the Norwegian midfielder the team's leading scorer. He is fulfilling the captain's brief to lead by example quite marvellously.

Ramsdale saved well from Harry Kane's header just before the break, with Kane one away from matching Jimmy Greaves' Tottenham goals record.

Kane will have to wait for that moment. He would have recognised Arsenal's superiority here, and it would have hurt him as much as anyone. Will Kane ever win a trophy at Spurs? It feels increasingly doubtful.

If there was any consolation in their bleak position at half-time, Tottenham may have been aware 16 of their last 17 Premier League goals had been scored in the second half of games, including their last night.

So what did they have left?

The early signs were bright. Dejan Kulusevski, coming in off the left, whipped a shot just over the bar, before Ramsdale saved brilliantly from Sessegnon as the former Fulham player looked sure to score.

But this was a tale of two keepers, and Ramsdale was rock solid.

For Arsenal, Xhaka thrashed a free-kick over, while Nketiah was twice denied by Lloris.

Then at the other end, Spurs substitute Richarlison fluffed a late chance as he allowed Ramsdale to make a comfortable claim.

Tottenham's eight-game home unbeaten streak against Arsenal in the league is over. Though they sit fifth in the table, they are five points behind fourth spot, and 14 points now adrift of Arsenal, having played one more game than Arteta's team.

London life is proving sweet for the men in red, with this a seventh win in seven capital city derbies this season, and a fourth away clean sheet out of four.

Arsenal had not won seven consecutive London derbies since the 2007-08 season. They have not been champions of England since 2003-04.

This is a season of change. A championship beckons. Such is their position of strength, we are getting close to the point where they would have to blow it. But this team are hungry and humble, guided by great leaders. Tottenham, and Antonio Conte, must feel pig sick.

Mikel Arteta is making memories at Arsenal he says he will never forget as he saluted the Gunners' "incredible dressing room" ahead of the North London derby against Tottenham.

Following a blistering start to the season, in which they have won 14 of their first 17 games, Arteta's side can move eight points clear at the Premier League summit with victory over their bitter rivals on Sunday.

Arteta endured a testing start to life at Emirates Stadium, but the pendulum has certainly swung in his favour this term, and he is enjoying himself now.

"It's just an incredible dressing room. It's just a joy to work with [the players] every single day," said Arteta, who won the Premier League's Manager of the Month award for December.

"Some of the things that we've done together, I'll probably never be able to do them with any other team or with any other group.

"Especially on match days and the things that we do together, that will stay in my brain for the rest of my life."

The maturity of this young Arsenal team has particularly impressed Arteta, who has noted the way his relationship with the players has changed this season.

"[The players] are certainly more mature," he said. "I think the demands have changed as well and my role and what they, in my opinion, need from me is different as well.

"And that's why we always have to be evolving and trying to be ahead of what is coming, to give to the players and the rest of the staff what is going to make everything click to be more efficient and to win more games."

On the pitch, that has translated not only to better results but also better performances.

Arteta said of the changes at Arsenal: "We win more games, which is the most important thing and the thing that changes everything, and I think we play better.

"We deserve to win in the games that we have won, and probably that's the most relevant thing."

Arsenal must show they can handle the pressure of being Premier League title "favourites", according to Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte.

Mikel Arteta's side head into Sunday's North London derby top of the table having won 14 of their 17 games.

But the Gunners dropped points in a goalless draw with Newcastle United last week, and with closest challengers Manchester City playing Manchester United on Saturday, Arsenal's lead could be cut to just two points by the time they step out onto the pitch at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

Conte is no stranger to title races, having lifted five top-flight crowns during his managerial career, including the 2016-17 Premier League while in charge of Chelsea.

He warned Arsenal that, despite their fantastic start, the real challenge starts now as they look to fend off City and claim their first league title since the 2003-04 'Invincibles' season.

"When you are at the top of the league the perception of your opponents change totally," Conte told reporters. "You are in that moment the best team in the league. For this reason, everybody wants to try to beat you.

"For sure, Arsenal has to face this situation of being favourites to win the league at this moment because they are top of the table. They have to show they are good to face this type of situation.

"In the last 10 years it was always the same, between City, Chelsea and Liverpool. Maybe Leicester [City]. Now Arsenal have a great opportunity.

"I think they are doing very well. Now they have to show they can stay there until the end of the season because I'm sure Manchester City doesn't agree and will feel the real possibility to win [the title] again.

"I think it is a battle between Arsenal and Manchester City."

Despite the huge animosity between the capital-city rivals, Spurs boss Conte still has respect for how Arsenal have turned things around after a tumultuous period in the late stages of and following Arsene Wenger's tenure.

Conte pointed out Arteta's focus on youth, as well as their recruitment in the transfer market, as reasons for the Gunners' success, saying: "They are working for many years in a project.

"They are doing very well. They sent away a lot of players, and bring in many players and they spend money to do it.

"It's normal when you work with the same young players and after four years they develop and become stronger.

"You have two paths you can follow.

"If you want to accelerate the process it is important to bring experienced players, winners, who know how to win, but you have another way, which is you need to have time and patience to develop young players."

Mikel Arteta has admitted that Arsenal need to have better control over their emotions after being hit with consecutive FA charges.

The Gunners were issued with a £40,000 fine on Friday for failing to control their players in the goalless draw against Newcastle United, following appeals for a last-minute penalty at Emirates Stadium.

Another charge then came the way of Arteta's side for similar appeals in the FA Cup third-round victory over Oxford United, with Arsenal's behaviour in both matches attracting criticism.

Sunday's north London derby against Tottenham will provide another test of Arsenal's ability to control their temper, as they seek to maintain their position at the top of the Premier League standings.

Arteta faced questions about the charges in his pre-match press conference and, while he admitted the team needs to do better in that aspect, feels he cannot control his own emotions.

"I care a lot about the reputation of the club, especially. Mine, I cannot control. I am who I am," he said.

"I try to do my best to defend the players, to defend the club and that comes down to certain people who won't like it. For sure, if everybody would like it, it wouldn't be very good.

"It's not that I don't care. But I care a lot more, especially when I'm doing my job. When I'm sitting at home, I care about what my wife thinks and what people think but you don't see it.

"But when I'm in the public eye, I care a lot [about] what can we do the best for the club and the best to defend the players. And this is my role as well.

"I agree that we have to control what we can control and there are certain things that we can do better.

"That's what big teams do, and the next one it's over, and you can draw or lose and it can mean very different circumstances.

"You haven't played when, the opponent was better than you, get a wrong decision, you didn't finalise the action the way you should, and someone make an error. But the next game has to be over.

"And hopefully, we have learned and we will try to do that. But in this league, there is no guarantee because the next game is going to be competitive and the next one. So, you have to earn it."

Dejan Kulusevski will be available to return for Tottenham against North London rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

Kulusevski was a key man for Spurs at the start of this season, but spent a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury prior to the World Cup.

The winger featured in Spurs' final three games before the tournament in Qatar, and with Sweden failing to qualify, the 22-year-old used the break to try and return to fitness.

But while he played the entirety of Spurs' first game back, a 2-2 draw at Brentford, Kulusevski was absent for the home defeat to Aston Villa with a muscle injury before also missing the victories over Crystal Palace and Portsmouth.

However, the former Juventus man is in contention for a clash with bitter rivals Arsenal, who hold a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

"The news for sure is the situation is going to improve, especially for Kulusevski," Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte told reporters on Friday. "He had training sessions in the last few days with us. He's going to be ready to play."

Conte will not be able to call upon Richarlison and Rodrigo Bentancur, both of whom picked up injuries while at the World Cup and have not featured for Spurs since.

"About Richy and Rodrigo, both situations are improving," Conte added. "I think in this moment Deki [Kulusevski] is much more ready to play. 

"For us, it is important to have patience ahead of this period and not to risk accelerating and lose them for a long period. We will see."

Lucas Moura has also endured a frustrating time due to injury and the club have decided not to renew his contract, which expires at the end of this season.

Conte said: "This is the decision of the club [not to renew]. 

"Honestly in my mind, when we planned this season Lucas was an important player for us. If you see the season, he's played one or two games."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has recently come under fire for his touchline antics after an angry confrontation with Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe during a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium, with the Gunners feeling they should have had a late penalty.

But Conte, who clashed with former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel earlier in the season, feels Arteta is within his rights to be animated, explaining: "Arteta is another coach that shows his passion and transfers this into the pitch and his players.

"Our job now has become really difficult, so to see a coach sat on the bench is very difficult. For sure Arteta is a coach like me, we show our passion. Nothing is prepared in your mind.

"Sometimes you can celebrate in a strange way, but this passion is a pure passion. Arteta is another coach who likes to live the game."

Conte was more critical of Arsenal's conduct as a team, after receiving two FA charges in the space of six days for their behaviour against Newcastle and then Oxford United in the FA Cup, stating: "To intimidate and create a bad atmosphere is not fair. I hate the people who try to do it."

Mikel Arteta is aware of the impact a first victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium could have on Arsenal's season ahead of Sunday's huge North London Derby.

Having beaten Tottenham 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium in October, Premier League leaders Arsenal are looking to claim a first league double against their local rivals since the 2013-14 campaign.

That season also represents the last time Arsenal won a North London Derby as the away team, with the Gunners losing on all three visits to Spurs' new home since it opened in 2019. 

With Arsenal looking to go 14 points clear of their rivals and maintain their advantage over Manchester City at the summit, Arteta is embracing the challenge ahead of them.

"We haven't won there, so that's the challenge we have ahead of us, we have to beat them at their place," the Spaniard said at Friday's pre-match press conference.

"We've had a few in the last few years – places where we didn't win in 15 or 20 years. We have a great challenge and opportunity on Sunday to get that one down.

"It's one of the biggest games of the season for us. We know how much it means right now for us in the table, and how much it means for our fans.

"We don't think about sending messages, we think about performing, playing well and earning the right to win the games.

"We know where we are. At Arsenal, we do not have any expectations other than winning games every three days, whoever we play against."

Spurs are looking to win four consecutive home league games against Arsenal for the first time in their history, with last May's 3-0 thrashing of the Gunners proving crucial as they beat their neighbours to Champions League qualification.

Reflecting on that defeat, in which Arsenal capitulated after Rob Holding's first-half dismissal, Arteta challenged the Gunners to showcase their improvement against their out-of-form hosts.

"There were a lot of things to learn and take from it," Arteta said of last season's trip to Spurs. "We are in a different place, but we have to show that by playing the way we want to play.

"Obviously, the way we have performed and the results that we've got, confidence-wise, have put us in a good position, but that's something you have to show in every single match against every opponent.

"Especially every away game brings a big challenge and this is no different. We have to prove we are good enough to go there and play our way to win the match."

Arteta was also asked about the club's pursuit of Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk – who appeared to hint at his desire to join Arsenal by posting a praying emoji on Instagram as reports suggested the Gunners had tabled another bid on Thursday.

"You know we cannot talk about any other players. There is interest in things we would like to do to improve the team because we are a bit short in certain areas," Arteta said. "As a club, we are determined to improve the team in every window."

Asked if he had taken notice of Mudryk's social media activity, Arteta laughed: "I won't tell you how good I am with a phone!"

Arsenal made it a clean sweep of the Premier League's monthly awards for November and December as captain Martin Odegaard and head coach Mikel Arteta took home the prizes.

Odegaard was voted the league's standout player either side of the World Cup, across the first couple of weeks of November and the final six days of December.

Over that period, the 24-year-old was involved in six goals, split evenly between those he assisted and netted himself.

No Premier League player had a hand in more goals in that time, with Odegaard's form seeing him become the first Arsenal man to be named Player of the Month since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in September 2019.

His form helped the Gunners open a seven-point lead at the Premier League's summit heading into 2023, and he held off competition from compatriot Erling Haaland, Arsenal team-mate Bukayo Saka, Manchester United pair Casemiro and Marcus Rashford, plus Ben Mee, Joao Palhinha and Kieran Trippier.

Odegaard's boss, Arteta, was unsurprisingly the recipient of the Manager of the Month prize.

During the qualifying period, Arsenal won all four of their league matches to stretch their lead at the top.

It is the second time this season Arteta has won the award, having also claimed it in August, and the fourth time in total since taken over the Gunners in December 2019.

The Basque coach topped a shortlist that also included Brentford's Thomas Frank, Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe, and Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool.

Graham Potter accepts he has not been "absolutely perfect" at Chelsea but is confident he can win his critics around – just like Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta before him.

The Chelsea coach is under increased scrutiny as the Blues have won only one of their past seven matches in all competitions and one of their last eight in the Premier League.

Back-to-back defeats to Manchester City had Chelsea fans chanting for Potter's predecessor Thomas Tuchel.

But he only had to look as far as the opposition dugout for a source of inspiration, with Guardiola's approach not universally popular at the start of his City tenure.

Guardiola has urged for Potter to be given time – the Blues coach says the owners have been "nothing but supportive" – while Arsenal manager Arteta and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp are other examples for him to follow.

"You have to understand [the criticism] is part of the job," Potter said ahead of Thursday's game against Fulham.

"You only have to look at some of my colleagues in a similar position.

"Pep, for example, in his first season, was being criticised quite heavily. I think Mikel Arteta has had a period of criticism. Klopp, in the first few years, would have had criticism as well. These guys are fantastic.

"You understand football is emotional. When you lose, you feel it; you feel the pain; you feel the suffering; you feel the discomfort.

"Sometimes it's hard to understand the 'why', and it's easier just to blame somebody. I'm sitting here saying it's not like I've been absolutely perfect, so they're not completely wrong, but I think it's always very complex.

"You just try to put it into perspective. You try to remember you're capable; you try to remember how you got here.

"Two months ago, I was considered to be a top coach. If you consider the people I've played against and played with, they'd probably say the same.

"But at the same time, I acknowledge the results we've had haven't been good enough for us. You have to accept and deal with it as best you can. Try to put it in perspective and keep moving forward."

Mikel Arteta allayed concerns over an injury sustained by Bukayo Saka and expects more decisive displays from Fabio Vieira after Arsenal beat Oxford United 3-0 in the FA Cup.

Saka was withdrawn in the second half of a victory at the Kassam Stadium on Monday that set up a fourth-round tie at Manchester City.

Arsenal face fierce rivals Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday and the sight of Saka limping off was a concern for the leaders.

But Gunners manager Arteta revealed the England winger is "fine" ahead of the short trip to do battle with Spurs this weekend.

Arsenal outclassed League One side Oxford following a lacklustre first-half display, Mohamed Elneny opening the scoring before the in-form Eddie Nketiah helped himself to a clinical quickfire double.

Vieira came into the starting line-up as one of seven changes made by Arteta and whipped in a brilliant free-kick for Elneny to break the deadlock with a header, then set up Nketiah for the second goal.

The midfielder has endured a frustrating start to his Gunners career due to injury, but Arteta is in no doubt he will prove to be a shrewd signing.

Arteta told ITV Sport: "He has the quality. He is a really creative player, and he can decide games in the final third. He made a difference."

Nketiah has scored four goals in as many games since the World Cup in the absence of the injured Gabriel Jesus, taking his tally for the season to seven.

Arteta said of the striker's form: "It is what we want from every player. I am delighted. You have to be scoring goals, and he is doing it."

He added: "We have only one [striker]. And to cope for that many months until Gabby's back is not easy. We have to make the most out of the players we've got."

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