Chelsea fell to a fifth consecutive defeat in all competitions after a 2-0 Premier League reverse against Brentford at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Cesar Azpilicueta's first-half own goal put Brentford ahead at the break, with the Blues unable to muster much of a threat thereafter.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's half-time introduction did at least provide some energy to Chelsea's attack, though the hosts never truly looked like scoring.

Any hope of a late comeback was thwarted by Bryan Mbeumo, his deflected effort clinching a win to boost Brentford's European hopes.

Liverpool came from behind to secure a third win in a row as they beat West Ham 2-1 at the London Stadium on Wednesday.

Lucas Paqueta's fierce strike gave West Ham an early lead, before Cody Gakpo equalised from distance and Joel Matip headed in a second-half winner.

The win took Liverpool up to sixth in the Premier League, ahead of Tottenham on goal difference before the north London side host Manchester United on Thursday.

David Moyes' men remain five points away from the relegation zone, but their loss here could give rivals hope of dragging them back into the conversation.

West Ham had the lead in the 12th minute when Paqueta came in off the left before playing a one-two with Michail Antonio and firing inside Alisson's near post from just outside the penalty area.

It did not take long for Liverpool to get level though as Gakpo hit a shot from 25-yards low to Lukasz Fabianski's right and in off the post.

Klopp's men should have been ahead in the 26th minute when the ball fell kindly to Diogo Jota in the area, but the former Wolves man sliced his effort over the bar, while he and Virgil van Dijk also saw headers go just wide.

The Hammers also had two promising moments before half-time when Van Dijk prodded the ball away from Antonio at the far post, before the striker then headed wide from the resulting corner.

Jarrod Bowen scored a lovely goal cutting in off the right 10 minutes into the second half only to see it disallowed by the VAR for offside.

Liverpool were not denied though when Matip's bullet header in the 67th minute from an Andrew Robertson corner put them ahead, and Klopp's side held on for the three points.

Chelsea's Mason Mount is "feeling good" after undergoing surgery on a pelvic issue that threatens to sideline him for the remainder of the season.

Mount has endured a frustrating few months, with six of his last seven appearances coming from the bench – including all three of his outings since Frank Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge as caretaker manager.

The England international has made 20 Premier League starts this term but only managed three goals and two assists during a season of upheaval for Chelsea.

On Tuesday, Lampard said Mount could face four weeks on the sidelines after being troubled by a pelvic issue, which required him to undergo minor surgery. 

Mount's Chelsea contract expires in 2024, and with fresh terms yet to be agreed, the 24-year-old has been touted as a potential transfer target for Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United.

With Chelsea concluding their Premier League campaign against Newcastle United on May 28, Mount's injury setback has led to suggestions he may have played his final game for the club.

The midfielder, however, hopes to return in the coming weeks, writing on Instagram: "Had a minor procedure yesterday to sort out a discomfort I had for a while. 

"Everything went well and I'm feeling good. Time to rest but can't wait to get back to training in the coming weeks! 

"Thanks for all your messages of support and a massive thank you to the medical team, doctors and nurses for looking after me."

Erling Haaland's goalscoring feats are comparable to those of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, according to Bernardo Silva, who believes his Manchester City team-mate shares the former's hunger for goals.

Haaland has led City's push for a Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble this season, scoring at a remarkable rate since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund last year.

The Norwegian has hit 48 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions this campaign – already a record tally for a player representing a Premier League club. 

Haaland has averaged a goal every 67.2 minutes and converted 58.6 per cent of his Opta-defined big chances for City, leaving Silva to compare his mentality to that of his Portugal colleague Ronaldo.

"The goal figures, it's unbelievable. It's Cristiano and Messi level, that amount of goals," Silva told Arab News.

"Hopefully Erling can keep going that way because we need his goals until the last game of the season.

"He has definitely got the same mentality as Cristiano, always wanting to be in the box, always wanting to score. 

"He doesn't care if he touches the ball one or two times, when he touches it, he scores. He's just a proper striker."

Haaland's total of 54 goal contributions is the best of anyone playing in Europe's top five leagues this season, with Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe second with 42 (34 goals, eight assists).

With Ronaldo's move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr likely signalling the end of his era-defining rivalry with Messi, Silva was asked whether Haaland and Mbappe could be the protagonists of a similar struggle in the future.

"Probably, yes," Silva said. "You have a few players apart from them who are doing very well, like Vinicius [Junior] as well. But it's true, those two are very young and doing very well.

"Kylian is more of a dribbler with the ball and Haaland is mainly inside the box like a proper striker, but both are very, very good at what they do. 

"It's not going to be easy to match the level that Cristiano and Messi did, but they are up there at the top."

Ryan Mason demanded a reaction from Tottenham's players after stepping up to replace Cristian Stellini as acting head coach, ahead of Thursday's visit of Manchester United.

Former Spurs midfielder Mason took charge on Monday, with Stellini removed from his role following a dismal 6-1 defeat at Newcastle United – who led 5-0 within just 21 minutes.

While Tottenham appear highly unlikely to contend for a top-four finish, there are still European spots up for grabs as they prepare to host Erik ten Hag's Red Devils.

Asked what he expected to see from Spurs against United, Mason said: "A reaction, absolutely.

"Obviously Sunday was disappointing for us, and I would hope and expect there's a reaction from not only the players, but everyone in the building and everyone involved in the club.

"I've been in football long enough to know things can turn around very quickly. I believe we can make a positive impact. We have a game on Thursday to try and react and get back to winning ways.

"So the feeling and the thought isn't on the whole situation – it's about how we're going to influence the players and get some positivity back."

United approach Thursday's game in high spirits, having reached the FA Cup final through Sunday's penalty shoot-out win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Possessing a six-point lead over Tottenham with two games in hand, United could effectively end their hosts' ailing top-four hopes with a victory.

Asked how important the game was to United's own bid for Champions League football, Ten Hag said: "Very. You see the table. It is quite clear.

"But our approach will not change. Our approach is we want to win every game.

"I have to make sure that our players are ready for tomorrow. I have to make sure that they have energy and are on the front foot to go into battle."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Tottenham – Harry Kane

Kane has scored 99 Premier League home goals for Tottenham, and is bidding to become the first player to reach a century of goals in both home and away games in the competition.

He has scored five league goals against Manchester United in his career, but only one of those has come at home – in the final game played at White Hart Lane in May 2017.

Manchester United – Marcus Rashford

Having scored 10 goals in his first 10 Premier League appearances following the World Cup break, Rashford has now scored just once in his last five outings in the competition.

Just three of his 15 league goals this term have come away from home, but with the Red Devils harbouring doubts over Bruno Fernandes' fitness, Rashford will be required to step up in north London.

MATCH PREDICTION – TOTTENHAM WIN

United have won their last three Premier League games by an aggregate score of 5-0. They have not won four successive matches in the competition without conceding since their final season under Alex Ferguson in 2012-13, winning six consecutive games to nil between February and March 2013.

The Red Devils have won 39 Premier League games against Tottenham. No side has beaten a single opponent more often in the competition's history, while they are also unbeaten in seven midweek (Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday) games in the Premier League this term (W5 D2).

However, the visitors have conceded 29 away goals in the Premier League this season, only ever shipping more on the road in a single campaign last term (35), and their injury problems may inspire hope of a new manager bounce for Spurs.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Tottenham 42.0 per cent

Manchester United 30.1 per cent

Draw 27.9 per cent

Robert Pires has heralded the work of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and believes his former club have "rediscovered their DNA."

Arsenal face Manchester City in a crunch Premier League fixture on Wednesday with the Gunners sitting five points ahead of their rivals, though defeat at the Etihad Stadium will mean Pep Guardiola's side move to within two points with two games in hand.

Regardless of the result, Pires – winner of two league titles with Arsenal – believes their progress should still be celebrated as they continue on an upward trajectory since Arteta's appointment.

"Arsenal are becoming a great English club again," he said, speaking to Le Parisien.

"They're fighting for the title and rediscovering their DNA – playing beautiful football, one which also allows us to see young talents to emerge, like Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka.

"It's everything that Arsene Wenger put in place when he arrived at the club. He wanted people to be inspired by him and play beautiful football. 

"These days, Arteta, who played under him before becoming Guardiola's assistant, has managed to bring that back. Arsenal are back up on their feet and that's why I like watching this team play. 

"You can compare their style of play to that of Lens or Marseille in Ligue 1 – these are teams that constantly attack. Of course there are weaknesses, but this tendency to attack is what we want to see more of in football."

Arsenal are winless in their last three games after draws against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton, while City remain unbeaten in their last 16 in all competitions.

Arteta's men are set to be without influential centre-back William Saliba through injury, with Pires adamant that squad depth may ultimately hinder Arsenal's title charge. 

"That's the main difference between the two squads," he said. "City's is much deeper and more powerful than Arsenal's. Mikel Arteta has often played with the same 12 or 13 players.

"They're a younger team, they have less experience, and that can be difficult when you have to go and get a title. The last two months are difficult. Everyone keeps telling you that you're going to win, there's tension, you're more and more nervous. You can get tripped up."

Ryan Mason wants to bring back "energy and positivity" to Tottenham after taking over as the club's interim boss for a second time.

The former midfielder has been placed in charge of Spurs following the dismissal of initial caretaker boss Cristian Stellini, who was sacked following a 6-1 loss to Newcastle United.

Mason previously was in charge of Tottenham on a temporary basis in 2021 following Jose Mourinho's exit, and led them in their EFL Cup final loss to Manchester City.

Ahead of his first game at the helm again versus top-four rivals Manchester United, the ex-England international is looking for a response after being handed the reins again.

"My immediate focus is Thursday," he said. "The most important thing is a reaction. Sunday was obviously very disappointing for us.

"I would hope and expect there is a reaction from the players, from everyone. Another important thing is getting energy and positivity back into the group and the fans as well.

"We have to be realistic. With three training sessions before two games, it is hard to change a big deal, but I would hope before the end of season people would see my stamp on the group."

On returning to the top seat in the dugout for a second time, Mason gave assurances he feels up to the task at hand, adding: "It came about relatively easily from my point of view."

"Naturally I feel comfortable, and it is just part of being involved in football. From a personal perspective, we handled it well two years ago.

"Obviously a lot of things have happened [since then] but ultimately I feel ready."

Tottenham lie sixth in the Premier League with just six games to go, and face a battle to ensure their European qualification for next season.

They are six points behind fourth-place United, who have games in hand on them, though Spurs in turn have a match to spare compared with fifth-place Aston Villa.

Bruno Fernandes has "a question mark" over his fitness, Erik ten Hag said ahead of Manchester United's Premier League clash with Tottenham.

The midfielder was forced off during United's FA Cup semi-final win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday with an ankle injury and was later pictured in a protective boot.

With Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane already sidelined in a blow to United's defence, the loss of Fernandes would hurt Ten Hag's side going forward.

But on the eve of the trip to Spurs, the manager could not confirm whether Fernandes would be available.

But the Dutchman is not ready to reveal whether the midfielder will sit out their crucial encounter with Spurs or if he could yet be available to feature.

"There are some unavailable," he said. "Martinez, Varane. We have to see how Bruno Fernandes is. We don't know yet. He is a question mark.

"It's more often that players [wear the boot], that we protect them. But [the ankle] has to settle down. We all have seen he played the full game [90 minutes before extra time].

"It happened in the first half. [The game is] Thursday, so tomorrow is quick, but we have to see what is possible."

The win on penalties at Wembley was an effective tonic for an ailing United side after they had lost emphatically at Sevilla to crash out of the Europa League three days earlier.

David de Gea and Harry Maguire both committed costly errors leading to goals in that game, but Ten Hag has continued to talk up their character as the pair recover.

"They are resilient," he said. "They are able to do it. It's not easy, but they can do it. You can have a bad setback but show your character to bounce back.

"I am the Manchester United manager. I have to make sure our players are ready tomorrow against a good opponent, good team, good players. I have to focus [and make sure] they have energy."

Now, United will face a Tottenham team reeling from a 6-1 rout at the hands of top-four rivals Newcastle United last time out.

Harry Kane, who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford, scored the only Spurs goal.

"It's quite clear, his impact on the game for Spurs," Ten Hag said of Kane. "We have a plan for that. You have to defend as a team. He's a clever player, he can have a big impact on the game."

Newcastle United are reportedly planning a £150million injection of talent in the upcoming transfer window, with Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney and Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby high on their list.

Tierney, 25, is a Scotland international with 37 senior caps to his name, but despite making 22 Premier League appearances this season, he has only been handed five starts.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe is keen to shift Dan Burn back into a central defensive spot where he is most comfortable, and views Tierney as capable of assuming a more integral role than he currently possesses at Arsenal.

Meanwhile, Leverkusen's 23-year-old winger Diaby is the priority in the front third, having contributed 14 goals and 10 assists during his 41 matches in all competitions.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE PLAN OFFSEASON SPENDING SPREE

According to The Sun, Howe has been told he will have £150m to spend, and he believes £30m is a fair price for Tierney as his potential new starting left-back.

Diaby has a number of fans, including Newcastle's Premier League competitors Arsenal, and is expected to cost in the neighbourhood of £62m (€70m).

Newcastle are also reported to have interest in Diaby's Leverkusen team-mate Mitchel Bakker, a 23-year-old left-back who could be an alternative to Tierney.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United are all planning bids for 27-year-old Fulham defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha, per Football Insider.

– The Daily Star is reporting Liverpool and 27-year-old Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips have mutual interest in a transfer, and he is believed to be available for £35m.

– According to The Telegraph, 29-year-old Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku will be given the opportunity to revive his career at Stamford Bridge under expected new boss Mauricio Pochettino.

– Sport is reporting Barcelona are hoping to land 30-year-old Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha on a free transfer, while his current club have offered a new £200,000 per week contract in an effort to make him stay.

Pep Guardiola scoffed at the idea his friendship with Mikel Arteta could be impacted by Manchester City and Arsenal’s title challenge.

The Premier League title rivals face off in a huge encounter at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Arsenal have drawn their last three games meaning a win for City – who have two games in hand on the Gunners – would see their lead cut to just two points.

Arteta left Guardiola’s coaching staff to join Arsenal in 2019, but City’s boss has nothing but admiration for his close friend.

"Nothing changes," said Guardiola when asked if his friendship with Arteta gave the match an "extra dimension".

"Nothing has changed on what I think about him. We talk less, that's normal, but the rivalries have always been there and it will always be the same.

"It's not the first time in sport history. I was a player, I had a lot of friends in other teams and it remained the same. You do your maximum to win but in the end, the personal relationships remain.

"I think the development of Arsenal since Mikel took over is obvious. I am a trainer, not a manager. I have a feeling that Mikel changed the structure of the club. Made a lot of decisions, changed a lot of players, with support from the hierarchy of the club, and that's why the success is there."

While City have been in brilliant form and Arsenal have had a wobble, Arteta sees no reason to be negative.

"[City] build up this incredible form and look where we are in the table still, so that means we've been as well in incredible form, and that's why we are where we are," the Arsenal boss said.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Manchester City – Erling Haaland

Haaland has scored 32 Premier League goals for City this season, the joint-most ever by a player in a 38-game campaign in the competition. Twenty of these goals have come at the Etihad Stadium, the most home goals by a player in a season since 2007-08 when Cristiano Ronaldo (Old Trafford) and Fernando Torres (Anfield) each scored 21.

Arsenal – Gabriel Martinelli

Martinelli has been involved in 11 goals in his last 10 Premier League games for Arsenal (eight goals, three assists). Overall, he has 15 Premier League goals this season, the joint-most by a Brazilian player in a single campaign, along with Roberto Firmino in 2017-18.

MATCH PREDICTION: MANCHESTER CITY WIN

City have won eight of their last nine Premier League games, including their last six in a row. At home they have won 17 of their last 19 league games (D1 L1), though their last four defeats at the Etihad Stadium have been against London sides (Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Brentford).

Arsenal have scored just three goals in their last 10 Premier League games against City, failing to score on seven occasions. They had only failed to score in six of their previous 37 against the Citizens in the competition.

Indeed, the Gunners have lost their last 11 Premier League games against Man City, their longest losing streak against an opponent in their league history.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Manchester City – 62 per cent

Arsenal – 15.3 per cent

Draw – 22.7 per cent

Brighton and Hove Albion have tied highly rated striker Evan Ferguson down to a new five-year contract.

Ferguson has enjoyed a promising breakthrough season in the Premier League this term, attracting admiring glances from other clubs.

But Brighton, so respected for their development of youth prospects in recent years, look set to continue shaping the 18-year-old.

Ferguson made his Premier League debut in February last year but has established himself as a regular first-team option in the 2022-23 campaign.

A powerful and athletic forward, Ferguson has made 13 top-flight appearances and scored four goals – across all competitions, he has netted eight times in 19 games.

Ferguson also made the breakthrough at international level this season, becoming the second-youngest player (18 years, 154 days) to score on his first start for the Republic of Ireland last month.

Before that, Ferguson also became the second-youngest (18y 76d) player in Premier League history to both score and assist in a match after Michael Owen in 1997 (17y 364d) back in January against Everton.

Netting against the Toffees also made Ferguson the youngest player to score in successive Premier League games since Federico Macheda in 2009.

On Ferguson's new deal, Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi said: "Evan's contract extension is great news.

"He trains and plays like a senior player with many years of experience and has become an important member of the squad.

"The aim is to help him become one of the strongest strikers in Europe."

Tottenham's players have offered to refund fans who made the trip to St James' Park to see their side lose 6-1 to Newcastle United on Sunday.

Spurs' hopes of qualifying for the Champions League took a blow as they were swept aside by top-four rivals Newcastle.

Newcastle were 5-0 up after just 21 minutes, the second-earliest a side has done so in Premier League history, after Manchester City against Watford in September 2019.

The fallout to the defeat saw acting head coach Cristian Stellini dismissed on Monday, with Ryan Mason appointed until the end of the season.

On Tuesday, Spurs released a statement from the squad, with the players electing to reimburse their away supporters.

"As a squad, we understand your frustration, your anger. It wasn't good enough," the statement read.

"We know words aren't enough in situations like this but, believe us, a defeat like this hurts. We appreciate your support, home and away, and with this in mind we would like to reimburse fans with the cost of their match tickets from St James' Park.

"We know this does not change what happened on Sunday and we will give everything to put things right against Manchester United on Thursday when, again, your support will mean everything to us. Together – and only together – can we move things forward."

Spurs are six points behind fourth-placed United ahead of Thursday's game, having played two matches more.

Pep Guardiola does not believe Wednesday's clash with Arsenal will decide the outcome of the Premier League title race but wants Manchester City to take destiny into their own hands.

City, who have booked their place in the last four of the Champions League and the FA Cup final, will move within two points of Arsenal, with two games in hand, should they beat the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium.

Arsenal have drawn their last three league games, while City have won 11 of their previous 12 outings across all competitions.

Asked if there was a reason behind City's menacing form, Guardiola told reporters: "When, early in the season, we lost games, people said it was physicality, that it was not good – that is, bulls***.

"Many things are involved in a game. We know now if we lose games, the situation will be over, so that's why when you are in October, November, you cannot have that feeling, especially after back-to-back championships.

"In the year when we won our first title [2017-18], when we got 100 points, we started the season like every game is a final.

"When we started this season after back-to-back Premier League titles, we did not have that feeling, every game was not a final. Now it is.

"Now we have arrived with the chance in our heads. If Arsenal win, the destiny is in their hands, but if we win, the destiny is in our hands."

 

On whether Wednesday's encounter was the decisive game in the title race, Guardiola said: "It's really important. Not decisive because still many tough games for both sides but we cannot deny how important it is.

"When you play these kind of teams, it is about everything. Arsenal have always had incredible details and care on the ball, all the players they select to play for the club have the biggest quality, biggest skills.

"Mikel [Arteta] has brought another dimension, they are big competitors, so aggressive. They control a lot of aspects. This isn't anything new. In the two games we've played this season, we felt it, and you have to challenge them or with the speed, intensity they have and quality they have in the build-up, it's difficult."

Arteta said his team will need to be "perfect" to beat City, though Guardiola does not see perfection as being attainable.

"Perfection doesn't exist in football, you cannot be perfect in the game," he said. "We know what happened against Bayern Munich and in the future against top teams, your standard has to be really high.

"They demand to be really good, so we have to do what we can to impose our game."

Jurgen Klopp was willing David Moyes to survive at the depth of West Ham's early-season crisis because the Liverpool manager dreaded becoming the old man of the Premier League.

The Hammers took just four points from seven games at the outset of this campaign, but Moyes guided his team to 10 points from the next five to buy himself some time.

There have been turbulent times since, including a run where his players took just one point from a possible 21, but West Ham look like surviving for another season in the top flight after pulling clear of the relegation zone.

On Wednesday, they host Liverpool, who have won 10 of their last 12 Premier League games against West Ham.

The exceptions both came at the London Stadium, with a 1-1 draw in February 2019 and a 3-2 victory for West Ham in November 2021.

When the season began, Moyes was the oldest Premier League boss, and he turned 60 on Tuesday.

Klopp, at 55, is still some way short of being a veteran manager, but he was wary of the possibility of all his Premier League colleagues being younger men.

Managerial situations at other clubs rarely interest him, but this was different.

"In this specific one I was really in it," he said. "Because if West Ham would have sacked David Moyes, I would have been the oldest manager in the Premier League and I wanted to avoid that.

"Yes, David has to stay. David is a top colleague. They have a good team, and they show now their quality again."

Klopp said he had enjoyed having a post-match beer with Moyes in the past, and was pleased he managed to ride out the storm.

"He's a really good person as far as I know," Klopp said, "and I like that he always finds a way to get a team going. It might not have worked out years ago for once at Man United, but that was the most difficult time to join Man United in the history of football, coming after Sir Alex Ferguson."

Moyes, who failed to last a full season when appointed by the Red Devils in 2013, is no longer the Premier League's oldest boss, with 75-year-old Roy Hodgson's mid-season return to Crystal Palace changing that.

Julen Lopetegui, appointed by Wolves in November, is also a year Klopp's senior.

Liverpool head to London on the back of wins against relegation candidates Leeds United and Nottingham Forest, results that have helped out West Ham.

This has been a season of torment for the Reds, however, with fifth place looking to be the best they might achieve.

Klopp said his team "have to still prove ourselves" but reasoned there had been "a lot of things to like" in the last two games, and in the second half of the Anfield draw against Arsenal in their previous outing.

He sees West Ham as a threat to Liverpool's ongoing four-match unbeaten run, saying: "It's a super dangerous and difficult game for us, definitely."

After losing three consecutive home league games in November and December, West Ham have lost just one of their last seven at the London Stadium (W3 D3), scoring at least once in each match.

"We have to make the next step," Klopp said, "keeping the standard of the last two games defensively and then going from there. Being uncomfortable to play against, that must be our target."

Mikel Arteta reminded Manchester City that Arsenal still hold top spot in the Premier League and will not let relinquish it without an almighty fight as the top two prepare for an Etihad Stadium battle.

The Arsenal manager explained how City old boys Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus have been adamant the Gunners are title material since joining in the close season.

That has helped to feed positivity around the team, and it remains in place despite Arsenal drawing their last three games to allow second-placed City to narrow the gap.

Arsenal's lead stands at five points, with City having two games in hand, plus Pep Guardiola's team have home advantage on Wednesday.

Defender William Saliba misses out through injury, and Granit Xhaka is a doubt, and Arteta is wrestling to get the best out of a team who have been paying for errors in recent weeks.On the eve of the game, Arteta said his players should still believe.

"One hundred per cent," Arteta said. "But we knew from the beginning that City were the team to beat, probably with Liverpool because of what those teams have won in the last six, seven years.

"We were the ones that wanted to be closing that gap as much as we possibly could.

"We are toe-to-toe with them. We knew we had to go to the Etihad. We know that after that we have another five difficult games.

"That game is going to be really important, but is it going to define the season? The answer is no.

"If we win tomorrow night, we haven't won the league that's for sure. It will shift a little probably, the percentage, but five games in this league with the games we still have to play, very tricky still.

"The belief is there. We really want it, and we're going to show that again tomorrow night. But then you have to deliver in the right moment, the right performance, and it has to be perfection.

"It's going to be a tough night and challenge, but the opportunity is incredible for us. We knew from the beginning that if you want to win the Premier League you have to go to Spurs and you have to beat them. You have to go to Chelsea and beat them. This is what we've been doing, and that's why we are here.

"Now we go to City, and we have to beat them. If you want to be champions you have to win those matches, it's as simple as that."

 

It helps that Arsenal have title winners in Zinchenko and Jesus within their ranks.

"For sure. The experience is key when you've been in those moments, to handle those moments and understand the importance of certain things," Arteta said.

"When they came in, after two or three weeks they said we can win the league. It's been going on since August. This process has been coming for a long time."

Arteta, a former assistant coach at City, said he has not spoken to Guardiola recently, and it will be pure business between the former colleagues on Wednesday.

Arsenal need to stop Erling Haaland, but they will be aware threats come from all quarters with City, exemplified by Riyah Mahrez hitting an FA Cup semi-final hat-trick at the weekend.

"Obviously we are working on their threats as well as working on their weaknesses, and we know what they are," Arteta said. "You have to control every single one.

"Let's focus on us. We know what they want to do, what they're going to try to do. They can do so many things. You have to focus on certain principles to try to take the game where you want."

Reminding his players of their position, Arteta pointed to Arsenal still being firmly in the race for the title, even as the focus shifts to City's recent scorching form.

"They build up this incredible form and look where we are in the table still, so that means we've been as well in incredible form, and that's why we are where we are," the Arsenal boss added.

Looking at the challenge of handling Haaland, the Premier League's 32-goal top scorer, Arteta said: "When you look at the numbers, there's no comparison with anybody else. He's able to produce that because the set-up is done in the right way for him. Preventing the source is something that is probably the best recipe."

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