Arsenal boss Arteta warns of Chelsea danger

    Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are top of the Premier League table (HENRY NICHOLLS)

    Mikel Arteta says Chelsea deserve to be higher in the Premier League table as he prepares his title-chasing Arsenal team for a testing London derby on Tuesday.

    The Gunners returned to the top of the league at the weekend, beating Wolves 2-0 to leapfrog defending champions Manchester City.

    They are level on 74 points with second-placed Liverpool but have a superior goal difference. City are one point behind with a game in hand.

    Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea were beaten by City in their FA Cup semi-final on Saturday but are unbeaten in eight league games, with four wins coming in that spell.

    Arteta said Saturday’s win against Wolves was crucial after last week’s league defeat to Aston Villa and a Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern Munich.

    “We are in a great position in the Premier League,” the Spaniard told reporters on Monday.

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    “We’ve been like this for nine months, nine-and-a-half months, and we want really to give it a real go and be really determined to do what is in our hands to try to lift that trophy and tomorrow we are going to have a very tough opponent in front of us.”

    Pochettino, speaking at his own press conference, said a late call would be made over the fitness of top-scorer Cole Palmer, who had missed training due to illness.

    But the Argentine said his team could win with or without their talisman.

    “The most important thing is the team and the collective,” he said. “He is an important part of the team and is doing fantastic for us, but we are Chelsea and we have plenty of players that can perform and do the job.”

    – ‘Incredible manager’ –

    Arteta said ninth-placed Chelsea would be dangerous opponents regardless of whether Palmer was fit, praising the squad and “incredible manager” Pochettino.

    “Whoever they put out there, when you look at the squad they have, the quality they have, it’s great,” he said.

    “I think they are doing very, very well. I think they’re doing much better than people are talking.”

    Arteta added: “They deserve to be in a much higher position in the league when you look at what they’ve done and what they’ve produced in games.

    “They have reached a final (League Cup), they have reached a semi-final (FA Cup), they could have been through. I think what Mauricio is doing is really impressive and I’m sure he’s going to get them there.”

    Arteta said his players were full of energy despite a gruelling season as the club hunt their first Premier League title for 20 years.

    “When I saw them this morning I had to stop them because winning is a big boost of energy and after their performance against Wolves, winning and having to play a London derby tomorrow, everybody is ready for it.

    “Something else is the amount and the volume of those games. It’s not the moment for us to look at that, we have to think in a positive way and feel and think that we are fresh to perform in the best possible way.”

    Arteta was also asked about his team’s good record against other members of the so-called “Big Six” this season, against whom they have not lost a single game.

    “Whether it’s psychology, whether it’s performance, whether it’s getting better as a team, obviously the more you win against big teams the more belief you have that you can do it consistently,” he said.


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