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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Quality of top Premier League teams ‘unprecedented’, says Mikel Arteta

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Mikel Arteta says there is “unprecedented” quality at the top of the Premier League as he prepares to take his unbeaten Arsenal team to face in-form Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday.

Arsenal, last year’s runners-up, are second in the table, two points behind pacesetters Tottenham after seven wins and three draws in 10 games.

Champions Manchester City are level on points with Arsenal, with Liverpool just a point further back and Aston Villa and Newcastle rounding out the top six.

“What has happened in the last five years is unprecedented,” said Arteta. “It never happened with the amount of points and level of the teams.

“Now it’s the amount of teams with that level that is increasing and increasing. That’s why comparing to the past in this league is a waste of time.

“It’s very different to what it used to be, and that puts the demands of what we do every single day in a different scope.”

A much-changed Arsenal team suffered a chastening 3-1 midweek defeat at West Ham in the League Cup, on the same evening that Newcastle, also with multiple changes, beat Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford.

Arteta said St James’ Park was one of the “toughest places” to win.

“We’ve done it and there is nothing new to it, we know what we’re expecting,” he said. “It is very clear what they do, what their strengths are, and where the opportunities are for us. We will try to take the game where we want.”

The Spaniard said Newcastle boss Eddie Howe deserved huge credit for the job he has done since taking over late in 2021, weeks after a Saudi-backed consortium bought the club.

“I think he has transformed the club, the environment, the atmosphere and what he created in the team as well,” he added.

“They have such a belief in what they do and that’s a huge compliment to him.”

Howe, also speaking on the eve of the match, said his whole squad would be lifted by their impressive win at Old Trafford.

“I thought the spirit, determination and collective mindset was at the highest level,” he said. “We are in a good place mentally after the win.”

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But he said Arsenal would prove a tough proposition.

“It speaks for itself what they achieved (last season),” he said. “They recruited really well in the summer.

“I think they have moved on from last year, mentally moved on and stepped it up. They are unbeaten, (and) it is a really big test of our credentials. We are going to have to find ways to make it very difficult for them but we are looking forward to the game.”

AFP

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