Mikel Arteta complimented his team for refusing to be content with Champions League qualification while maintaining that Arsenal is still aiming for the Premier League crown.
Arsenal, who had been in first place for the majority of the season, dropped to second place after Manchester City defeated Fulham 2-1 on Sunday. Including last week’s 4-1 thrashing of the Gunners, which gave City their fifth title in six years, they have now won eight straight league games.
Arsenal, on the other hand, has only earned three points from their past four games, but their performance throughout the season has at least secured their return to the Champions League after six seasons away from Europe’s top competition.
Even though City are now the favorites, Arteta will be looking to get back on track when struggling Chelsea visit the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night. Arteta wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Arsenal winning the title.
“We have achieved what it was difficult to achieve and we can still achieve the Premier league because there are five games to go and a lot of things are going to happen still,” he said.
“Now the title race is not in our hands anymore. What is in our hands is to try to win the games we have left and the rest is down to City.
“What we have to do is forget about what happened last week, learn from it and move on to the next game with a full tilt at home, with our people, London derby, and put things right.
“I know what we were trying to do, what the objective was what we’ve been doing and we still have the nicest part of the season to play with five games to go. But when I still look at it, this is not over.
“I am incredibly proud and thankful to everyone who has contributed to bringing Champions League football back to this club with five or six games to go, it is something that hasn’t happened in over a decade in this football club.
“So congratulations but also thank you for still being upset and not accepting that Champions League is not enough and we want more because this squad is going to demand to get what we want.”
After leading the pack for 247 of the nights so far this season, a win over Chelsea would return Arsenal to the top of the standings for at least 24 hours.
The Blues, who have spent £600 million on players in the last two transfer windows, are currently on an eight-game losing streak with Frank Lampard serving as their interim manager since Graham Potter was fired in April.
But Arteta thinks Chelsea’s predicament shows that a team needs more than just a sizable transfer budget to be successful.
In our model we have very important things,” he said.
“First of all, is to have the right people and I think we have the right people. Then we have the right players who can compete, they can challenge, they can understand their role within the team.
“You need quality, goal threat, physicality, you need a lot of things in this game and that is extremely difficult to find that thin balance with the players.
“Recruiting is just… you have the best intention but then the player has to come here, has to fit in, has to get that chemistry with the manager, the team-mates, the staff, the country. It is not easy at all so credit to everybody who makes those decisions as well.
“They have exceptional talent. If they make that work, they can do anything because they have the players, they have the infrastructure they have the history to do it.”