EPL

Arteta aims for perfection against Chelsea as Arsenal search for long-term progress

By Sports Desk August 21, 2021

Mikel Arteta reckons Arsenal must be "perfect" to beat Chelsea on Sunday as he looks to get the north London club back among the Premier League challengers.

The Gunners started the new top-flight campaign in lacklustre fashion, going down to promoted Brentford 2-0 in the opening game.

A derby with Thomas Tuchel's side is next up and, after defeating Chelsea 3-1 in the same fixture last term, Arteta knows what it will take to be successful again at Emirates Stadium.

"What we have to do is perform, perform at the highest level," he replied when asked in a pre-match media conference if a draw would be a positive result.

"We know that to beat Chelsea we need to be perfect.

"Individually and collectively, we have to have an extraordinary game. The focus is going to be that."

Arsenal also triumphed 1-0 at Stamford Bridge towards the end of the previous season, too. They have not won three in a row against Chelsea in the league since a successful run between January 2003 and February 2004.

While Chelsea could be buoyed on by their record signing Romelu Lukaku making his return, Arteta has added Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale to his squad.

Asked whether spending money came with added pressure, Arteta made clear it is all part of the long-term planning at the club to get them back contending again.

"We are a football club that tries to make the right decisions and move forward," the Spaniard said.

"It’s never been down to me. When we have success, titles, or when we have difficulties, it's down to us with me here, and it will be like this in the future.

"What we want to do is bring this club back to where it was. We are going to do that, the timing of it is a little more complicated than people think, but the aim is to do that.

"The only aim going into all matches is to win, nothing else. Achieving that as quickly as possible is the only objective we have."

Related items

  • Tottenham defender Romero ruled out until 2022 Tottenham defender Romero ruled out until 2022

    Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte does not expect centre-back Cristian Romero to return from injury before the end of the year.

    Romero damaged his hamstring during Argentina's goalless draw with Brazil last month and has missed Tottenham's last two games.

    Conte said last week the injury was more serious than first thought and a second scan has confirmed the defender is facing a spell on the sidelines.

    "The news is not positive. Not good," Conte said at a news conference previewing Tottenham's home Premier League clash with Brentford on Thursday.

    "The injury is serious. I think it'll take time to see him again. Surely next year. We need to check his injury week by week but the injury is serious.

    "Now he's trying to recover but he needs a long time to recover. It's a pity because you know he's an important player for us. The injury is very serious."

    Pressed on when exactly he expects to see Romero back in action, Conte replied: "Next year. Next year. January, February, I don't know. But for sure in 2021 he has finished. 

    "We have to wait and see his recovery but the injury is serious."

    Romero was named as Defender of the Year in Serie A last term before joining Tottenham from Atalanta on an initial loan that will be made permanent next year.

    The 23-year-old has made 13 appearances in all competitions to date for Spurs and started Conte's first two games in charge.

    Despite losing a key player to injury, plus some mixed results since succeeding Nuno Espirito Santo last month, Conte is not looking ahead to the January transfer window.

    "Honestly, when I decided to become Tottenham manager, I didn't speak about this aspect," he said. "When you take a job, you have to make your evaluations and you have to feel your sensations. 

    "And honestly, I felt Tottenham was the right club to work and to bring my ideas and philosophy of football. For this reason, I accepted the job.

    "I didn't talk about January or the way to improve the team. I repeat: I'm here because I have great enthusiasm, great patience to start a new work with Tottenham. 

    "If I'm here it's because I want to build something important with the club. I know at the moment we're a bit far from the top clubs but we need to work to improve the situation. 

    "To start to and also to create a good basis where you start – and then you build. We can do this and then our fans will support us.

    "At the moment it's not simple, but I have great enthusiasm and great patience and I believe that here we can win something importance. 

    "We need patience and time but I have great desire to do something great."

    Conte did provide some more positive injury news with regard to Giovani Lo Celso, who he expects to return to training the day after the Brentford game.

    Spurs welcome Brentford to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium unbeaten in their last 11 meetings with their London rivals in all competitions in a run stretching back to 1948.

    However, Tottenham have lost each of their last five London derbies in the Premier League – their worst-such run since losing six in a row between March 2003 and January 2004.

  • Carrick still yet to speak with Rangnick despite interim manager's appointment Carrick still yet to speak with Rangnick despite interim manager's appointment

    Manchester United caretaker manager Michael Carrick still has not spoken to Ralf Rangnick about the team despite the German's appointment as interim boss being confirmed on Monday.

    United announced at the start of the week that an agreement had been reached with Rangnick over a relationship that is set to span two and a half years.

    Initially, Rangnick will take charge until the end of the season before moving into a consultancy role.

    Rangnick has previously shaped German clubs such as Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig from top to bottom, with his future advisory position at Old Trafford suggesting United are planning an overhaul of their football operations, which have long appeared outdated compared to their rivals.

    But the 63-year-old's start at the club has been delayed due to work permit issues – according to reports, Rangnick does not been the criteria for an automatic visa because he has only coached one season out of the past five.

    While United are not thought to be concerned about the outcome, the situation is hardly helpful to the playing and coaching staff who are awaiting Rangnick's arrival.

    It was suggested at the weekend that United's apparent greater pressing intensity in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea may have been influenced by Rangnick – Carrick denied that was the case at the time, and ahead of Thursday's visit of Arsenal, the caretaker manager claimed they have still not spoken to each other.

    "It's pretty much as it was because of the process and work permit, we've not been able to [talk to each other]," Carrick told reporters on Wednesday.

    "We've carried on as we have done. It's worked well for last two games and hopefully it does tomorrow.

    "Literally, I've nothing to update you on other than the process of the visa is ongoing and going through now, so I'm in this position as I was for Chelsea and Villarreal, getting the boys ready for the game."

    Carrick caused something of a stir by leaving Cristiano Ronaldo out of his starting XI at Stamford Bridge, instead opting to use him from the bench.

    Despite it appearing a shock from the outside, Carrick insists it was not considered a big deal in the United dressing room.

    "Those decisions get blown up a lot bigger than they are in the club," he continued. "Decisions are made for a lot of different reasons.

    "Of course, some things are bigger news than others, that's how it is. I didn't see it a major decision; it certainly wasn't in the group.

    "We got on with it, the game went well to an extent and it wasn't a drama at all."

    Carrick's two games in charge have resulted in a 2-0 win at Villarreal in the Champions League and the stalemate against Premier League leaders Chelsea.

    One player whose performances have caught the eye in those games is Fred, the much-maligned Brazilian midfielder who had frequently appeared out of his depth under Solskjaer.

    Across the past two games, Fred has at least seven more recoveries (19) than any other United player, he ranks highest for possession won in each third of the pitch and his six interceptions is double that of any of his team-mates – suffice to say, Carrick has been impressed.

    He said: "I think it gets overlooked – first choice for Brazil in a good Brazil team shows how far Fred's come since he came to the club, and how much he's improved.

    "I really like him. One of the biggest things is his attitude and desire to be a key player, desperate to put himself out there and play games.

    "He twisted his ankle against Villarreal in the first half and it would've been enough to force other players off – to carry on when it's swollen and sore is hard but he carried on then bounced into the game and there was no way he was going to miss the next game.

    "That mentality is infectious. I think he's improved an awful lot, Fred. He brings a great energy to the team and he's improving.

    "He's played a little higher up the pitch than before because we tweaked a couple of things for both games and he's done ever so well.

    "The regains, and especially for Cristiano's goal against Villarreal, epitomises that and he almost did it when he intercepted from [Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard] Mendy. He brings an awful lot to the team and I like him an awful lot."

  • Barcelona's Sergi Roberto to undergo thigh surgery Barcelona's Sergi Roberto to undergo thigh surgery

    Barcelona midfielder Sergi Roberto is set to undergo surgery on his right thigh after sustaining an injury.

    Sergi Roberto has not been able to feature for Barca since playing an hour in the 1-0 LaLiga defeat away to Rayo Vallecano on October 27 - former head coach Ronald Koeman's last game in charge.

    The 29-year-old has started just six games in all competitions for Barca this season, featuring in another six off the bench, and has not completed 90 minutes this term.

    Roberto's 568 minutes of playing time have also been split between central midfield and right-back or right wing-back as the La Masia graduate's versatility was utilised by Koeman.

    The Spaniard will be hoping that - when he returns from surgery - he will be able to force his way into new head coach Xavi's thinking and earn more consistent minutes, either in a fixed position or as a utility player.

    Roberto registered two goals and an assist in Barca's first three league outings, coming off the bench in the first two of those appearances.

    Barca's next game is at home against Real Betis as the Blaugrana look to close the 10-point gap that has opened up between themselves in seventh and league leaders Real Madrid.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.