Mikel Arteta on Arsenal’s title hopes after beating Chelsea: “We have four games to go, we are top of the league, it was one of the things we talked about tonight – can we go back and go where we’ve been for many months”
Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal can still win the Premier League after returning to the top of the table with a convincing win over Chelsea, despite Man City’s games in hand.
The Gunners jumped back to the summit courtesy of a first win in five games to beat their troubled London rivals, but they will be leapfrogged again by Manchester City on Wednesday should they beat West Ham live on Sky Sports.
The title race is out of the North Londoners’ control at this point but Arteta told Sky Sports after a much-needed win that they still believe they can lift the Premier League trophy for the first time since 2004.
“We have four games to go, we are top of the league, it was one of the things we talked about tonight – can we go back and go where we’ve been for many months and now we have to wait and see, we know it’s not in our hands,” he said.
“We’re going to try to [take it all the way] against Newcastle, we have another tough match, but we’ll be preparing to win.”
Former captain Granit Xhaka, who has enjoyed as bright a renaissance as anyone under Arteta’s management, laid on a hat-trick of assists for the Gunners’ three goals, while player of the match Martin Odegaard, who scored twice against the Blues, told Sky Sports they were confident the title race was still alive with four games to go.
“The first 60 minutes we had a very good game. We deserved the three points today. We needed a reaction and the team, with the fans, had a good reaction,” Xhaka said.
“We did not have our best day against Man City, they were the best team last week. But we still have belief.”
Odegaard added: “Especially the first half was brilliant. We showed a different spirit to last time. The second half was a bit messy but we needed this one.
“Everyone was so hurt after the City game but we used that anger to bounce back. You can lose games but we weren’t ourselves. I think we showed a different side today.
“We have to keep going. We will fight until the end for the title.”
Arteta made three changes to the Arsenal team who lost to City with the aim of shoring up his side’s defenses, and though they did concede to a second-half consolation from Noni Madueke, he saw a vastly improved performance over 90 minutes from his side.
When asked what had pleased him most about the victory, he told Sky Sports: “That we were us. That’s what I demanded. I wanted to see that energy, that determination, that fluidity, that movement, that purpose in our play.
“That was there from the beginning. That led to connecting with our crowd and obviously, you know what happens when we are able to do that. The goals were really helpful because they set the tone for the rest of the game.
“We knew that if we dominated them and got in the final third then they were going to have issues. In the last 30 minutes, we allowed them to run and, with the players they have, in transition moments you are going to have problems.”
Arteta singled out center-back Jakub Kiwior, making his first Premier League start since a January move from Spezia, for seizing his opportunity after three months without a look-in on the Arsenal starting line-up.
The Polish international slotted straight into defense in place of the under-fire Rob Holding and helped restrict Chelsea to a handful of half-chances aside from Madueke’s second-half goal.