Every word Mikel Arteta said on Arsenal injuries, Man City form, Tottenham and Jurrien Timber

Mikel Arteta faces the press ahead of Arsenal's Premier League clash with Aston Villa
Mikel Arteta has spoken to the press ahead of Arsenal vs Tottenham -Credit:Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

How do you feel about Arsenal's chances in the title race with four games to play?

That we are there. We have to look at ourselves and perform the best possible way and win our matches and wait to see what happens. That's what we discussed. It sounds a bit repetitive, but that's what we have to do.

Is it a two horse race now?

I don't think so. This league is tremendously demanding and there can be still a lot of turns. We know what we have to do to win this league.

How pleased are you with the way your side has responded to adversity this month?

It's been great. Not just the results but the performances as well. We had a big one against Chelsea in the London derby and we're going to need to have another big one against Spurs on Sunday.

How big is it to have nearly everyone fit?

Yeah, availability we mentioned before, that it was something key. Apart from Jurrien it's going to be very close that we have everybody available. That's a huge boost that elevates the training sessions, the competition, between the players and the alternatives to pick the right line ups to change the game. It’s going to be something very important.

How excited does that make you for future seasons?

We are fully focused on this one because there's still a lot at stake and we want to get the job done. We know it's a very young team with a very bright future and still a lot of room for improvement. We will try to keep developing it.

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How much of a factor could playing four times since Spurs' last game be?

For sure we're gonna be fully ready. We have a bit of time to recover and prepare from the Chelsea game and I'm sure we're going to be fully ready to go again on Sunday.

Is City's result a sign that you'll have to be perfect?

It's another game that they managed to win in a convincing way. We cannot control it. So let's do what we have to do.

How much of a selection headache is it right now to have everyone fit?

It's a good headache! You feel for the players because you see how much they want it, how much everyone wants to start and contribute to the team in the right way. It's always difficult, it's part of the job, but as well they're fully ready to come on the pitch however we need them to try to help us to win matches. Their spirit is very good.

What's it like preparing for an NLD as a player vs as a manager?

More motivation if anything. Because you know what you can give to your people, which is a lot of joy and happiness when you win the game. When you have the chance to do that you really want to make it happen.

What do you make of Ange Postecoglou?

Really impressive with what he's done. I'm not surprised. I've known him since he was in the Australian national team and in Japan I followed him as well. He's always been super clear with a really clear direction and identity with how his teams play. I love the way his teams play so I think he's been very good.

How do you see the players right now?

Enjoying the moment. Trying to navigate this in a natural way. They're super competitive at the moment, everything we do in the training session they just want to compete and compete and compete and it's a really good sign. We know what we're going to do if we have to win it and we have to raise the bar in training to match that to make sure that we are ready.

How much of Havertz's form is your decision?

It's never my decision, it's our decision. We made the decision super aligned with the club's vision. On the sporting side, Edu and I make our recommendation. There are a lot of very important people and at the end you need the ownership to back you and make things happen. We were very convinced that they were characters first and players to fit in our model for the club. Sometimes it takes a bit of time. It's inevitable that you are going to make mistakes and you have to generate the environment and the reason that the players need to fulfil their potential.

Is the squad you've got capable of challenging for a while to come?

I hope so. But you have to show it every season, every game. We've done it two years in a row and we're not satisfied with that, we want to win it. We're going to make everything that we can to win it. If we don't, we will try again.

If you don't win it is it still progress this season?

I'm not even thinking about that.

What do you make of the supercomputer that has you at 26% to win this season?

I don't know what to say. Maybe we can tweak the computer to make it a bit higher. Maybe it needs to update the software, we can help it to update the software and give it more tools. Hopefully we can change that.

You've used the phrases being vertical and ball speed a lot this season. Why do you find them so important?

It depends on the moments of the phase of play and how the opponents behave. It's all about that. It's all about what the opponent is trying to do. How you can hurt them, identifying their weaknesses and identifying those moments to hurt them. We try to prepare a game. There are a lot of concepts around any way of playing and for us these two are important, but there are many others.

Do you get a sense before that you’re going to see that from the players or do you find out in the game?

There are games that you imagine and you try to explain to the players this is what I think is going to happen and why it's going to happen and how we can provoke that as well. Make it happen and then use it.

Lost at Spurs two years ago when chasing top four – lessons from that?

My memory is failing! I was more focused on the one from last year, more positive.

Different core of players now – trust them more?

I have always trusted my players and from there you can perform, I can make the right or wrong decisions as well to help the team to win or not win in the best possible way. It was a very particular match for many situations but of course certainly we learn, we try and evolve from there, try and get a squad that is better equipped. We all had experiences as well that has hopefully help us develop and be better and on Sunday we will have to show it again.

20 years since Invincibles won PL there, inspiration?

Well, I understand that, but that's not going to happen mathematically, even if we do win it. But there are moments, obviously, that are very important in our history and I am sure that a lot of players know about it. Certainly the staff and the ones that have been here long enough know about it. It's about making our own history now.

Advantage for you having played four games while Spurs haven't?

I don't know. What I can tell you is the boys are going to be fully ready on Sunday to go to play against a great opponent, that is going to make things very difficult for us and we are going to have to be very good to beat them.

Will Timber be in the squad?

We are going to have to make that decision tomorrow after the training session. It's very close. I don't know if it is going to come a bit too early this one, but is very close, I'd say.

Spurs have had 15 days off. Are you surprised by that at this stage of the season?

We knew that. They're not the only team to do that because of the circumstances and the schedule a few teams have to go a while without the game. It can go either way. I don't know. We will do what we can to prepare to be better on Sunday.

Would you rather have played four times or had time off?

I love the fact that we played four games. We had some great experiences. It's been a really demanding week. We had some great results in the last two. That's boosted the confidence of everybody. We're in a good place.

Are you expecting an open game on Sunday?

I don't know. I don't know what they'll do. They've been very, very consistent and I think that's probably the biggest strength in what they've done. You have to prepare and sometimes in games you have to be able to tweak things if necessary.

Do you think Havertz, Jorginho and Rice's connections to other London clubs will help you on Sunday?

Yeah we know. I think it's an unbelievable atmosphere. We played there a few times already and it's a great place to play football. We have to put the rivalry aside and we have to live the game with passion and the intensity that it demands rather than anything special because the game has everything you need to enjoy it.

You can finish above Spurs officially at the weekend. Does it show how far you’ve come that no one is talking about it?

I don't know. I think we have to look at ourselves and what we want to achieve and evaluate that in the context of a league and a lot of clubs that are super strong and make it really difficult to do. We have to evaluate it in relation to what we’ve done and make certain seasons in relations to that.

Do you get a sense of pride that you can also secure Champions League football for a second consecutive season?

We have to do it first. Once we do it, I think it's important to mention it and remember it and then go to the next one.