Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal face ‘special’ Spurs strike force in derby clash

Mark Mann-Bryans, PA
·3-min read

Mikel Arteta admits his Arsenal side will come up against one of Europe’s “most special” strike forces when they host neighbours Tottenham on Sunday.

Spurs moved past a century of goals for the season as Harry Kane scored twice in Thursday’s Europa League round of 16 first leg win over Dinamo Zagreb.

Their collective tally now stands at 102 across all competitions as they prepare to make the short trip to the Emirates Stadium for the second north London derby of the campaign.

Mikel Arteta admits it will be a challenge to stop Tottenham scoring in Sunday's north London derby.
Mikel Arteta admits it will be a challenge to stop Tottenham scoring in Sunday’s north London derby. (John Walton/PA)

Only Bayern Munich have scored more across Europe’s top five leagues so far this season as the likes of Kane, Son Heung-min and Gareth Bale have enjoyed purple patches at different times.

The trio are likely to start for Jose Mourinho’s side as they go in search of a third straight derby win – and Arteta knows what a challenge it will be to keep them quiet.

“It’s very difficult because the level of quality, precision, understanding and chemistry that they have between them makes them probably one of the most special (attacks) in Europe,” he said.

“And they don’t need much. They are able to create their own chances, they are able to link as a team.

“So it is really difficult to do, but we will prepare the game well to try to stop them obviously.”

Kane, Son and Bale have hit 34 Premier League goals between them in the first 27 games of the current campaign.

They will be licking their lips at the prospect of coming up against an Arsenal defence which has kept just one clean sheet in their last 12 matches.

Arsenal secured a 3-1 win at Olympiacos on Thursday despite further defensive errors.
Arsenal secured a 3-1 win at Olympiacos on Thursday despite further defensive errors. (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

The Gunners have also gifted goals to the opposition in their last two outings, including an equaliser for Olympiacos on Thursday night in their own Europa League tie – where they rallied late on to win 3-1.

Asked if keeping more clean sheets was the biggest area for his side to improve on, Arteta replied: “Well, yes because the amount of chances that we are conceding has been really low.

“But the amount of chances that we have given to the opponent has had a big impact in the goals that we have conceded.

Kane and Son hit the goals as Spurs beat Arsenal 2-0 earlier this season.
Kane and Son hit the goals as Spurs beat Arsenal 2-0 earlier this season. (Glyn Kirk/PA)

“So it depends on us a big part, which is a really positive thing, but we know that it is a part that we want to eradicate to be more consistent with results.”

“You have to find a way to win and there are certain things that are some basics that you have to do every game – and sometimes there are some things that you have to control because of the opponent, because of the circumstances, because of the time that is left.

“And that’s a process we are in and something we have to improve very much to fight with the top teams.”