Football Soccer Arteta would have taken current Arsenal position at beginning
Football Soccer Arteta would have taken current Arsenal position at beginning

Football: Soccer-Arteta would have taken current Arsenal position at beginning of season

LONDON (Reuters) – With two games remaining in their quest for a first Premier League title in 20 years, Arsenal are embroiled in a neck-and-neck battle with holders Manchester City — and it’s a position manager Mikel Arteta said he would gladly have taken when the season kicked off.

“I would have taken the pen and I would have signed,” Arteta told reporters on Friday.

Arteta’s men, who travel to play struggling Manchester United on Sunday, are a point ahead of City at the top of the table, but need some help from Fulham if they are to stay there. City have a game in hand and will climb past the Gunners with a win at Fulham on Saturday.

Arsenal are heavy favourites to win at Old Trafford, although Arteta has injury doubts about winger Bukayo Saka and defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, saying they would be assessed during Saturday’s training session.

“We will have to wait and see,” the manager said.

Arsenal have struggled at Old Trafford, winning just one of their past 16 games there with 10 defeats. But eighth-placed United have been hit by injuries and were clobbered 4-0 at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Arteta was asked whether he believes victories in their final two games will be enough to beat City, who are in the hunt for an unprecedented fourth consecutive league title.

“It leaves us in a very clear situation,” Arteta said. “We have to focus and do what we have to do to be in the best possible situation. That’s what we are doing. We have to think that it is going to work and we can be better than our opponent and beat them.

“The final outcome might be something else, but that is not in our control.”

Asked if the team will watch City’s game at Craven Cottage, Arteta said: “We’re going to be training,” but added, “I’m sure people will be connected with it.”

A day after Jorginho signed a contract extension, Arteta said it was an easy decision for the club to keep the midfielder.

“There’s no question about his contribution to the team or the way he feels about his team mates, the club or the way we play,” Arteta said of Jorginho, who initially signed an 18-month deal when he joined from Chelsea in January of 2023.

“He’s somebody who makes everyone else better. That’s his main quality. He’s still hungry, he wants to win and he wants to win with us. He’s happy here and his family is happy here. For us, it was an easy decision.

“He’s a very important player for all coaches because his game understanding and the way he communicates and coaches people is excellent. As a model it’s very difficult to find someone better than him.”

The Gunners’ season finale is on May 19 versus Everton.

(Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Toby Davis)

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