Mikel Arteta demands more from Arsenal players in fight for Premier League title
By Sean Walsh
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has called on his players to 'step in and give a little more' in order to secure the Premier League title.
The Gunners have moved eight points clear of Manchester City at the top of the standings, though have played a game more than the reigning champions and still have to visit the Etihad Stadium before the end of the season.
Perhaps crucially, Man City are still fighting on three fronts whereas Arsenal's sole focus is on the Premier League after they were dumped out of the UEFA Europa League by Sporting CP on Thursday.
During that exit from Europe, Arsenal lost defenders Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba to injury, with Arteta providing updates on them after Sunday's 4-1 hammering of Crystal Palace.
In that same press conference, the Spaniard spoke of the need for the squad to raise their levels in order to outlast Man City in the title race, pointing to Saliba's replacement in Rob Holding as a shining example of this.
Arteta said: "We've lost players already this season. We've lost Gabby [Gabriel Jesus] for four months, Thomas Partey for one-and-a-half months, Oleksandr Zinchecnko for one-and-a-half months, we've lost Mohamed Elneny for six to eight months. Now we've lost Eddie [Nketiah], Tomiyasu and Saliba.
"Everyone has to give a little bit more. It's not a secret. If you want to maintain that level, everyone has to step in and give a little bit more. Rob is an example of what we needed today.
It was then put to Arteta that the title picture could be a little different if some of his key men pick up injuries during the March international break - star striker Jesus picked up his knee problem during the last break for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, only just returning to the Arsenal fold.
"I want to think positively. Touch wood, but I want to think positive," Arteta replied.
"They're going to have to play games, they have to do it in the way that they do it here or possibly even better with their country.
"[My message is] that they really look after themselves in this period. We will look after the players that are with us here.
"That they come back with the same mindset and hunger from before to go into Leeds [on April 1] which is the only important game right now. We know it."
On this edition of The Chronicles of a Gooner, part of the 90min podcast network, Harry Symeou discusses Arsenal's 4-1 win against Crystal Palace, bouncing back from Europa League heartbreak and more.
If you can't see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!