Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal’s stunning 4-2 victory over Chelsea will give his players the belief they can complete their top-four mission.
The Gunners bounced back from three consecutive defeats in style while ending their goal-shy form to move level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham after 32 games played each.
Arsenal face tough tests against Manchester United and West Ham in their next two matches ahead of a visit to Spurs next month, but Arteta reckons their win at Chelsea can play a significant role in their important fixtures to come.
“I think it will help because it gives you confidence and belief you can do it on the biggest stage, away from home against the top teams in this league,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “Hopefully they can believe more in themselves.
“That’s the game that we had in hand. I said to them if you want to play Champions League football you have to come to places like this and win. Tonight we’ve done it and I’m really proud of them tonight, but I’m more proud of how they’ve reacted to every defeat over the past few weeks. Not only the players but as a staff and a club, and that’s what reinforces me and gives me a reminder of how lucky I am to be here .
“What I love is the spirit of these players. When you lose matches, you get punished, you get criticized but for these players I do not care because it’s so worth it. They are phenomenal people and as a group they are really growing “To win a London derby away from home and how we did it, I’m really happy.”
Merson: It’s Arsenal’s advantage
Arsenal and Tottenham are level on 57 points with six games to play, including one against each other at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 12, live on Sky Sports.
Before then, they both play three times – Tottenham heading to Brentford on the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Brighton while Arsenal host Manchester United.
“I do not think Tottenham will beat Brentford away, they’re flying,” he said Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson.
“I know Man United have been terrible but who does not want to turn up at the Emirates and play football on that pitch? They’ve got no pressure, Man United, probably the first game they’ve ever played as a club of their magnitude where no one expects anything, nothing.It’s a dangerous game [for Arsenal].
We wanted to give the fans something to believe in us and we did that. We showed fight and character. It’s a huge result.
“It’s all about timing at the moment – West Ham away is a hard game but it’s in-between Frankfurt. Will they rest every player? I think it’s Arsenal’s advantage.”
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp believes the Chelsea victory can be pivotal for Arsenal’s attack after their recent failings in front of goal.
“The fact they’ve scored four goals now, they have to go to West Ham, Spurs, that will give them so much faith in that dressing room,” he said.
“When you go away and you get goals and you create chances it’s so important for your confidence. I do like what I saw from Arsenal. They’ve shown a bit of character. Saka, Nketiah and Smith Rowe have that devilment in the way they play.
“It’s a big result, it makes it wide open again. I think if they’d lost today, it would have been too much for Arsenal to come back from four losses on the spin. They’re right back in this race.
“Burnley and Norwich are Spurs’ last two games, you’d take that if you needed to win those two.”
Hasselbaink: Spurs know how to win
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink reckons the top-four race will go the way of Tottenham despite Arsenal getting back on track at Stamford Bridge.
“Before the match I was more with Spurs because of their firepower and because Arsenal were having difficulty scoring,” he said on Sky Sports.
“I’m still with Spurs. The north London derby will be a big, big match but I just think Spurs have [Harry] Kane and [Antonio] Conte, and know how to win games. “
Merson added: “Tottenham have more experience. We’ve seen with Arsenal it’s the consistency. They were flying along and then they lose three games on the trot against three average teams. Then all of a sudden they come to Chelsea and score four, and that’s what you get when you have a young team. “
Arsenal’s remaining fixtures …
April 23 – Man Utd (h)
May 1 – West Hamlive on Sky Sports
May 8 – Leeds (h)live on Sky Sports
May 12 – Tottenham (a)live on Sky Sports
May 16 – Newcastle (a)live on Sky Sports
May 22 – Everton (h)
Tottenham’s remaining fixtures
April 23 – Brentford (a), live on Sky Sports
April 30 – Leicester (h)
May 7 – Liverpool (a)
May 12 – Arsenal (h), live on Sky Sports
May 15 – Burnley (h)
May 22 – Norwich