Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has highlighted the importance of the support that the club gave him at the start of the season, as he looks to exact revenge against a Brentford side that defeated the Gunners back on the opening day.

Goals from Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard gave the Bees victory against Arteta's team in their first-ever Premier League game back in August, with the Arsenal boss coming under severe pressure when his side lost their opening three games of the campaign.

Since those three defeats, only Manchester City (18) and Liverpool (14) have racked up more Premier League wins than the 12 accumulated by Arteta's team, and the Spaniard was keen to praise the Emirates hierarchy for supporting him during that poor run.

"I always felt very well-supported and understood, I'm very much in line with everyone at the club", Arteta said ahead of the reverse fixture against Thomas Frank's outfit.

"When we had difficult results, the club always stood with me, and has been really supportive for me and the players, which I do not take for granted.

"Losing matches is part of the job, and you can learn a lot of things. You have to be stubborn, to keep faith in your beliefs.

"That pressure is part of football. That is football today, with the facilities we all have to express our opinions, you know you're going to be very exposed as a coach."

Arsenal are sixth in the Premier League, trailing fourth-placed Manchester United by four points and possessing three games in hand, as the north London club look to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2016.

While content with his side's strong run of form, Arteta was keen to play down notions that his team were now favourites to finish inside the top four.

"We have earned the right to be where we are now, and that's a credit to the club, to the players, to everybody.

"We have to go game-by-game, to maximise the position we are in, and that's what we are going to do.

"Tomorrow we will try to play well and win the match, that's the only target."

Arsenal are looking to preserve a 32-match unbeaten run at home to newly promoted clubs in the Premier League when they host Brentford, a sequence which stretches back to a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United in November 2010. 

Their visitors, meanwhile, would become the first newly promoted team to do the double over Arsenal since Blackburn Rovers did so in 1992-93 if they were to win in north London.

Mikel Arteta wants to talk to the Premier League officials after Gabriel Martinelli's unusual dismissal in Arsenal's 1-0 win over Wolves. 

Gabriel Magalhaes put Arsenal in front against the run of play at Molineux on Thursday but the Gunners were forced to cling on for a first victory of 2022 after Martinelli saw red. 

The Brazilian lost his composure after being denied a free-kick and was shown two yellow cards at once by referee Michael Oliver in the 69th minute. 

The first was for attempting to stop Daniel Podence taking a throw-in and the second was for barging Chiquinho over after chasing the ball back. 

It was the 15th red card Arsenal have received in all competitions since Arteta took over in December 2019 – seven more than any other Premier League side in that time frame. 

The Spaniard is eager for an explanation after what he considered an unprecedented dismissal. 

"It's the first time I've seen a red card like this in 18 years that I've been in this league. I think you have to be pretty willing to give a red card in that situation," Arteta said. 

"But it's what happened. We know that playing with 10 men in this league you're not going to get the points that we want and we have to stop it. 

"But to be fair, it's difficult to find more arguments and more ways to transmit that to the players. Everybody says it's the most disciplined group they've seen in the last 15 years, but still we are getting red cards for other things. 

"If you ask me if I'm happy with the decisions we've had this season, I'm not at all. But that's a conversation I will have privately with the officials. We need explanations, we need explanations with what happened in VAR and I need explanations with what happened today." 

Wolves boss Bruno Lage also complained about the officiating at Molineux.

He felt Gabriel's goal – the first his side have conceded from a corner in the top-flight this term – should have been disallowed for a foul by Alexandre Lacazette on goalkeeper Jose Sa. Lage also questioned why an own goal by Granit Xhaka was chalked off for offside against Raul Jimenez. 

"I think there were two strange decisions, especially for our 'goal'. But we continue to work," said Lage. 

"I saw the Arsenal goal and the striker kicked Jose Sa's hand. It's clear, so clear. When you look at the image it's a strange decision. 

"I'm disappointed because I thought we were the better team. Our tempo was very good and we managed the game well but we didn't score our chances and we suffered from a set piece." 

Mikel Arteta says he is hopeful that Arsenal can convince Bukayo Saka to stay at the club even if they fail to finish in the Premier League's top four this season.

Saka's current deal at the Emirates Stadium reportedly expires in 2024, with the club eager for him to sign a new one.

However, reports have linked the 20-year-old with a move to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, and the player himself has expressed his desire to play in the Champions League.

Saka recently told Sky Sports: "I think the Champions League creates so many special nights and it’s a dream for me still to experience one of them and hopefully many more of them."

At a media conference ahead of Thursday's trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers, when asked if the club needed Champions League football to keep hold of their star youngster, Arteta replied: "I don’t know. It’s a conversation we’re going to have with the player internally and then with his environment, his agent, his family, who are going to be extremely important, so everybody is on board.

"Obviously, our desire is to keep Bukayo as long as possible because we are really happy, he’s part of our club, he’s our DNA, he’s growing, he’s maturing, his importance in the team is unquestionable and we want to keep our best talent at the club, that’s for sure."

Arsenal currently sit sixth in the Premier League, four points behind fourth-placed West Ham but with three games in hand.

Saka has emerged as a key player for the Gunners, having played the most games in all competitions at the club so far this season (26), while only Emile Smith Rowe (nine) has scored more than his seven goals.

No-one has created more than the England international's 40 chances, and he has created eight big chances, whereby a team-mate would be expected to score, which is three more than the next highest (Martin Odegaard, five).

Arteta also outlined the balance Arsenal must find between allowing opportunities for their best young talents, while also strengthening the team with big signings.

"Here there are two things. It’s trying to build a squad that you have room for those players to develop, and the other one is to have those players developing when we are extremely competitive," he added.

"Because if you sign three top players, and then those kids start not playing, what happens? You cannot have it both ways. If you sign big players, with big money, the money has to be on the pitch – which means that these players are not going to be on the pitch.

"So we need to find the balance, but with the standards that this club requires, which is to be the best. This is what we are trying to do, but without killing what is growing."

Mikel Arteta insists he was "the solution, not the problem" in an apparently fractious relationship with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The forward, who scored 92 goals in 162 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal after joining from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018, was released from his contract and joined Barcelona on deadline day.

It was a move that came about after the Gabon international had been stripped of the captaincy at Emirates Stadium following a disciplinary breach.

Aubameyang suggested that Arteta was the one at fault for the falling out, declaring at his Camp Nou presentation: "I think it was a problem just with him [Arteta].

"He made the decision. I can't say much more. He wasn't happy, I stayed very calm and that's it."

However, speaking ahead of the Gunners' trip to Wolves in the Premier League on Thursday, Arteta put a different spin on events.

"That's his opinion, that’s what he said and you have to respect that," he said.

"I’m extremely grateful for what Auba has done and his contribution.

"The way I see myself in that relationship is the solution, not the problem."

Aubameyang's departure came at the end of a transfer window in which Arsenal failed to strengthen, with January having also brought little cause for cheer on the pitch.

Arsenal were winless across five games in all competitions last month, exiting the FA Cup and EFL Cup along the way.

Despite the lack of incoming players, Arteta defended the club's approach.

"We did what we believed was the right thing to do," he said. "The squad composition and contracts were catching up, be fair with players who haven't had a lot of minutes.

"We had a clear plan of what we can do, but then it has to be doable.

"Edu [technical director] and his team have done a great job. We are very clear we only want the best people and the best players at this club.

"When we are in a rush and the reasons to get a player on board are not the right ones we didn’t do it."

Arteta's side sit sixth in the table, four points behind fourth-placed West Ham but with three games in hand.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has probably played his last game at Arsenal because the club never learnt "how to forgive", according to former Gunners striker Emmanuel Adebayor. 

Aubameyang was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy in December for a disciplinary breach, which reportedly related to him returning late from a trip abroad. 

It was by no means Aubameyang's first indiscretion, having also last year been reminded of his responsibilities after it was claimed he broke COVID-19 guidelines to get a tattoo. 

The punishment did not stop at having the armband taken off him, though, with Mikel Arteta excluding Aubameyang from the squad for the rest of the month. 

His exclusion led to Gabon asking for him to be released early for Africa Cup of Nations duty and Arsenal granted that request, only for him to return to his club without playing a single competitive game in Cameroon as he required medical follow-ups after contracting COVID-19. 

Adebayor knows what it is like to have a fractious relationship with Arsenal and the club's fans, having hit out at both following his 2009 move to Manchester City. Two months later he scored against his former club and ran the length of the pitch to goad Gunners supporters, a celebration that has gone down in Premier League folklore. 

Such have been his experiences with Arsenal, he seemingly sees no way back for Aubameyang. 

He told reporters: "I know he's definitely going to go through a lot because that's Arsenal for you. You can't do whatever you do. 

"They never learn or they never knew how to forgive. So, I know he will go through a lot. 

"But he's a strong player, he's a good player, he's a fantastic player. I wish him all the best. 

"I sent him a message already because we just want him to bounce back. 

"He's our African brother and we want him to keep representing Africa the way he was doing it before the problem. 

"This is what I know because it happened to me also. Not in the same way, but a way back? At Arsenal, I would be surprised. 

"But as I'm telling you, he's a great player so let's see how he ends up." 

Aubameyang has apparently rejected a move to Saudi Arabia, with the 32-year-old said to be eager to stay in Europe. 

Mikel Arteta was frustrated at a lack of guile from his Arsenal in a goalless draw at home to Burnley and the Gunners boss did not seem optimistic he will be able to bring in reinforcements this month.

Arsenal were looking to move level to go fourth in the Premier League by overcoming a Burnley team that had lost their last two away games 3-1.

However, the Clarets held firm at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, with Nick Pope making some fine saves and Alexandre Lacazette spurning a glorious opportunity.

It means Arsenal head into the Premier League's winter break sitting in sixth, while Burnley are bottom but hold between two and four games in hand on their relegation rivals.

The Gunners had 20 attempts, with five hitting the target, yet they have now failed to score in four successive matches in all competitions. It is the first time they have gone on such a run since December 2005.

Arsenal have also failed to win any of their first five games in a calendar year for the first time in 27 years, while it is the first time since October 2008 that they have not beaten a team at the bottom of the league at home.

"We started slow, we looked leggy and didn't have enough rhythm or intention to attack the way we wanted," Arteta told BBC Sport.

"We tried in every different way but lacked the quality in the final third. At the end, when we have a really low block, you need spark and creativity to win football matches and today we didn't do that."

For all their possession (75.7 per cent), Arsenal only created one big chance against Burnley, defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would be expected to score, though they finished with an expected goals (xG) of 1.4, suggesting their finishing was below par.

Pope made two excellent saves to deny Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe, who subsequently turned provider for Arsenal's best chance, only for Lacazette to prod wide of an open goal from the midfielder's cut back. 

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future uncertain – albeit he was unavailable for health reasons on Sunday – Arsenal are reportedly keen to bring in a striker this month, and it would seem it is a vital need if they are to secure Champions League qualification.

Dusan Vlahovic is said to be a target, with Fiorentina willing to sell the forward, who scored 33 goals in Serie A in 2021, matching Cristiano Ronaldo's record from 2020. However, the Viola have insisted no offer has yet been received for a player rumoured to be valued at €70million (£58.6m).

Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin has also been linked, while Arteta has previously said he would like to bolster his midfield, but asked about Arsenal's transfer plans for the remainder of January, he replied: "In this market things are complicated."

Burnley did offer a threat of their own, with Dwight McNeil particularly dangerous on the counter. No player had more than his four attempts, one of which almost caught Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale cold early on.

Ramsdale did his part, however, and that was the only save he had to make. The former Sheffield United goalkeeper echoed Arteta's complaints about Arsenal's attacking output.

"I will give credit to Burnley, we know what they are about, it is frustrating from our behalf because we were putting balls into the box and that's meat and drink for Burnley," he told BBC Sport. "We didn't create that quality we needed."

Ramsdale was not wrong. Arsenal played 42 passes/crosses into the box – a season-high for the Gunners. Indeed, their 23 crosses from open play was also a high mark for 2021-22, yet only two of these were successful.

Battling Burnley made 42 clearances, including 27 headed clearances. Both figures are season-highs for Sean Dyche's side.

Mikel Arteta insisted Arsenal can use the loss to Liverpool as a platform to build on as he called for improvements against Burnley.

A Diogo Jota double eliminated the Gunners from the EFL Cup at the semi-final stage on Thursday as Jurgen Klopp's side ran out 2-0 victors across the two-legged tie.

Arteta's side rarely troubled the Liverpool goal, bar an early Alexandre Lacazette free-kick hitting the crossbar, and their focus is now solely on the league as they are out of every other competition.

But the Spaniard believes his team can utilise their outing against the Reds to develop upon on Sunday against Burnley, who they have lost just one of their last 18 league games against.

"I will show them what they have done against Liverpool and demand more of ourselves as well," he told reporters at his pre-match news conference.

"We did a lot of good things but it is not enough to win the tie across two games against them, and this is the level of excellence we have to look for."

Burnley are winless in their last 11 Premier League away games, drawing four and losing seven, but have not played in the top flight since January 2 due to various coronavirus-enforced postponements.

The Clarets will be without the in-form Maxwel Cornet for the trip to Emirates Stadium as well, but Arteta expects a tough task against Sean Dyche's relegation battlers.

"They are a competitive team and Sean always puts them out there for a difficult game," he added.

"For us, it is a massive game after the defeat and disappointment – we have to get back on track and get winning."

Burnley did win 1-0 on their last league visit to Arsenal and are looking for consecutive such victories for just the third time, after doing so in 1950 and 1960.

While aware of his side's need to regain their form, Arteta insisted Arsenal are not feeling the heat of the top-four race as they sit in sixth – two points behind fourth-placed West Ham having played two games fewer.

However, north London rivals Tottenham are fourth, a point ahead of the Gunners, while boasting a one-game advantage over their neighbours.

"We are here to win football matches and that is the pressure, we know the amount of matches we have to win if we want to be up there," Arteta continued.

"We can't look too far ahead, there has been a lot happening in recent weeks and it has been extremely difficult to manage the squad and the team.

"We have lost a lot of players and we have to reunite, win on Sunday and move from there. Then we have a window to hopefully get some players back."

Diogo Jota was "on fire" against Arsenal and Jurgen Klopp took it as evidence he has become a "world-class" attacker at Liverpool. 

Liverpool spent £41million to sign Jota from Wolves in September 2020 and he has provided stiff competition for Roberto Firmino. 

The Portugal international took his tally for the Reds to 27 in 57 appearances with a double in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg against the Gunners on Thursday, clinching a 2-0 aggregate win that set up a meeting with Chelsea at Wembley in February. 

Despite only playing two games for Liverpool at Emirates Stadium he is already the club's top scorer at the ground with four goals, while he has five in his past four appearances against Arsenal in all competitions. 

Jota stepped up to play a decisive role with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, but it came as no surprise for Klopp. 

"The mood in the dressing room is that we are over the moon. It was a difficult game, difficult time in general … but what the boys did tonight against this really strong Arsenal side was absolutely exceptional," Klopp told Sky Sports. 

"First half, Arsenal were pretty lively, then we calmed it down, played good football and created not plenty but quality efforts were not so easy. The second half was pretty similar. 

"We scored two wonderful goals, I have to say. Wow, Diogo Jota on fire. But the passes were – on the first goal it was super play and the second one, I don't think a lot of people in the stadium saw Diogo in that position but Trent saw it, which was helpful. Then he finished it off. Absolutely outstanding. 

"We were completely convinced when he arrived at the club that he would help us massively. Nowadays you can watch 100 games if you want [before signing a player], so we were really comfortable. 

"Since he is here, he has made another step. It's helpful. He has just turned into a really world-class striker." 

Arsenal hit the bar through Alexandre Lacazette in the opening period and the France international missed a great chance to work Caoimhin Kelleher early in the second half. 

The Gunners' were left with a bitter taste when Thomas Partey picked up two bookings in three minutes after returning from AFCON duty earlier in the day.

Arsenal have had a player sent off in three of their past four games – none of which have ended in victory – and have received a total of 14 red cards in all competitions since Mikel Arteta took over in December 2019. No other Premier League side has received more than eight.

"We are really disappointed but we played against a top side. We had big moments in both halves and we have to score," said Arteta. 

"We had chances and were pushing for the game but we have to convert if we were to beat a team like Liverpool. 

"I have no regrets [about sending Partey on]. I cannot use him now, so it is what it is. He made the effort to come ... we had to make a decision and we decided to use him and unfortunately that happened.

"We have played the last three games with 10 men and at this level it is extremely difficult to win like that. I am proud of the boys and how committed they were without any training sessions." 

Mikel Arteta has urged his Arsenal players to do their talking on the field against Liverpool after accusing unnamed parties of "lying" about the reasons behind Sunday's north London derby postponement.

The Gunners had a request to call off the match against fierce rivals Tottenham accepted by the Premier League on Saturday due to having a lack of players available to choose from.

However, Arteta's side were accused of exploiting the Premier League's rules for a game to be postponed, with the majority of their players absent due to injury, suspension or Africa Cup of Nations duty.

Arsenal had only one confirmed positive COVID-19 case at the time of lodging an application to get the derby called off, but the Premier League deemed they were unable to meet the required number of available players – 13 outfielders and a goalkeeper – despite their Under-23s having a squad of 16 for a game on Friday.

Speaking on Tuesday, Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte felt the decision to postpone the match was "very, very strange".

But Arteta hit back at Arsenal's critics in response to Conte's remarks and added: "We're not going to let anybody damage our name or try to spread lies."

Doubling down on those comments, Arteta said: "We have to defend ourselves. The best way to do that is demonstrate who we are, and the best way to do that is on the pitch.

"Whoever is saying we are trying to do something we are not, that's a lie. We have all the evidence we have to provide. 

"You have to provide evidence individually, all the MRIs, all the COVID cases that you have, you have to put it on the table, you have to explain it, you have to answer more questions and you have to go again and do it. We've done all the right things."

As the fallout from Sunday's derby cancellation continues, Arsenal have a crucial EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool to prepare for on Thursday.

The tie is delicately poised following last week's goalless draw at Anfield, where Arsenal held on with 10 men for more than an hour after Granit Xhaka's sending off.

And for Arteta, the match at Emirates Stadium represents a chance for his young squad to continue their development by reaching a major final.

"I can sense the excitement when they're training. They're really looking forward to it. The majority of them have not experienced [a semi-final]," he said.

"It's why you play football, it's why you want to play for this club, to win trophies. We want to go through and then go and win it, which is the best memory you can have."

Arsenal confirmed on Thursday that defender Pablo Mari has completed his loan move to Serie A side Udinese.

Mari, who has made 22 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions, will remain at the Dacia Arena for the remainder of the season. 

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has expressed his excitement at Harvey Elliott's return to full training, saying that the youngster "didn't lose his football brain."

Elliott has been out of action since September, having dislocated his ankle in a 3-0 Leeds United. The teenager had played in all four of Liverpool's previous games this season.

The 18-year-old returned to full training earlier this week and Lijnders smiled as he was asked about the former Fulham player at a news conference ahead of Liverpool's EFL Cup semi-final second leg at Arsenal.

"Let me say it like this, he didn't lose his football brain," Lijnders said, though he did not put a timescale on Elliott's return to match action.

"He shows immediately what he's about. It would be a crime if you would not play him if he trains like this, but we know it's just the start of the team training. He needs time and we go step by step, of course.

"Some players they never knock on the door, they run through it – and he's one of them."

Elliott, the youngest ever Premier League player, returned to Merseyside at the end of last season having enjoyed a productive loan spell at Championship side Blackburn Rovers, where he registered the joint-third most assists in the division (11), behind only Emiliano Buendia (16) and Michael Olise (12), who is now playing a starring role for Crystal Palace.

He was also the only player in the Championship to register as many as three second assists – which Opta defines as a pass/cross that is instrumental in creating a goal-scoring opportunity – and was eighth overall for successful passes into the final third (519), ahead of the likes of Olise (495), Leicester City's Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (478 while on loan at Luton Town) and Tottenham's Oliver Skipp (441 while on loan at Norwich City).

In his three Premier League starts and one substitute appearance this season before his injury, Elliott created five chances, more than team-mate Curtis Jones (three) has in his four starts and three appearances from the bench, and won possession in the middle third of the pitch (17) more often than Jones (11) and even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (12) despite the former Arsenal man making 15 league appearances, seven of which have been starts.

Lijnders also had words of praise for Liverpool's opponents on Thursday, crediting the work that Mikel Arteta has done since taking charge of Arsenal just over two years ago and noting how well the Gunners played in the goalless first leg at Anfield despite going down to 10 men in the first half when Granit Xhaka was sent off.

Arteta, too, has been happy to utilise younger players as he continues to freshen up Arsenal's squad.

"First of all, Arsenal always had really good players but, for me, they have a really good team at this moment," Lijnders added. "I think credit to Mikel, they matured.

"You see many games where the team with 10 men plays better than the 11 – not play better but they give just this extra step, they give this extra [bit] more because they know they have one player less. What happens many times with the 11 players is that they do one thing less because they know they have one player more. That's exactly what happened.

"Anyway, what I like about the Arsenal game is that we wanted to surprise them with our intensity and that's what we did until Xhaka went off.

"I really think that in football the only advantage exists if you go to the last minute of the game, to be honest. Before that, it's quite even. I think Mikel did an unbelievable job. The team is a proper team.

"They were struggling as well with injuries and, how you said, COVID cases and they had to change as well in the last minute, but if you can play with 10 men like that then you have a mature and good team."

Mikel Arteta hit back at Arsenal's critics following the postponement of Sunday's north London derby as he insisted "we did the right thing."

The Gunners were due to make the short trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a showdown with their fierce rivals, but the game was called off due to a lack of players available to Arteta.

Arsenal were accused of exploiting the Premier League's rules, with the majority of players absent due to injury, suspension or Africa Cup of Nations duty.

The club only one confirmed positive COVID-19 case at the time of lodging an application to get the derby called off, but the Premier League deemed they were unable to meet the required number of available players – 13 outfielders and a goalkeeper – despite their Under-23s having a squad of 16 for a game on Friday.

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte felt the decision to postpone the match was "very, very strange."

Arsenal manager Arteta hit back on the eve of Thursday's EFL Cup semi-final second leg at home to Liverpool, which he expects to go ahead despite "issues that have not been resolved" in his squad.

Asked what he thought about people saying Arsenal could have played the game, the Spaniard said: "We played against Forest [in the FA Cup] when we had 10 players out and we went to Liverpool and we had many players out.

"We have done that and we have played with academy players when we already have the youngest squad in the league.

"Tomorrow if we have everybody available as I suspect we will play the match because we want to play football."

He added: "I think more than hate [being directed towards Arsenal] there is a lot of respect for Arsenal and that comes from the history of the club, how it's always acted and how it has always conducted itself.

"We know we did the right thing. We worked with the Premier League and the FA to make that decision. If anything we've been very honest at least."

Arteta stressed that it was "100 per cent guaranteed" that Arsenal did not have enough players to face Spurs.

Asked if the criticism of the club could be used as a fuel to drive his team, Arteta said: "We will defend our club tooth and nail. We're not going to get anybody damaging our name or trying to spread lies."

Arteta revealed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back in London and has undergone tests after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations for medical reasons without playing a game.

The Gabon striker had tested positive for COVID-19 on January 6 and was subsequently diagnosed with "heart lesions".

Arteta said: "He's in London and going through some examinations because we haven't had any clarity from Gabon about why he came back.

"So it's our obligation to make sure he's safe and in good condition. So far historically with what we've done with the player that's never been an issue."

Aubameyang has not featured for Arsenal since December 6, having been stripped of the captaincy due to a breach of club rules.

Arsenal and Liverpool played out a goalless draw in the first leg of their EFL Cup tie at Anfield, with Granit Xhaka seeing red in the first half.

Antonio Conte is set to take charge of his first north London derby on Sunday.

We say "is set to" rather than "will" because there does appear to be the possibility of the game being postponed due to Arsenal's growing list of absences, with the club reportedly requesting for it to be called off.

The Gunners were without as many as nine first-team players for Thursday's EFL Cup semi-final first-leg draw with Liverpool, and Mikel Arteta intimated they have further issues as a result of that match.

But, for the moment, the game is planned to go ahead as normal and Conte will surely be eager for it to do so, with Arsenal's predicament seemingly giving him the best possible chance to right some previous wrongs…

CONTE'S ARSENAL HOODOO

When you consider how good Conte's Chelsea were, it seems quite remarkable he could have such a poor record against any team.

But during his time at Stamford Bridge, Conte won just one of eight games against the Gunners, or 12.5 per cent.

Among the clubs he has faced at least five times across his managerial career, Conte does not have a worse win rate against anyone.

Spurs can perhaps take solace in the fact they have not lost yet under the Italian in the Premier League, though if they do lose on Sunday, Conte will be the first Tottenham manager to suffer his first top-flight defeat in a north London derby since Ossie Ardiles in August 1993.

KEY MEN RELISH A DERBY

In Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Tottenham have two players with a track record of impacting north London derbies.

Son has had a hand in five goals across his previous four meetings with Arsenal (three goals, two assists), while Kane is, of course, this fixture's all-time leading scorer with 11 strikes in 16 games.

Nevertheless, Arsenal may have some confidence in keeping Kane at bay at least given he has not scored in his past two derbies – failure again will make it his worst drought in the fixture.

Further to that, Kane's record of 0.35 non-penalty expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes is bettered by as many as 15 players this season (minimum 500 minutes played) and he is under-performing that in terms of non-penalty goals (0.19 per 90 mins), suggesting he may not be the Mr. Reliable he once was.

YOUNG GUNS MADE OF THE WRIGHT STUFF?

While Arsenal's squad may have a little less derby pedigree, it would be fair to say they have a greater presence of youthful exuberance, with young players playing a prominent role for Arteta.

Arguably chief among them are Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, who were both on the scoresheet when Arsenal beat Spurs 3-1 earlier this season.

No English player has scored in both north London derbies for Arsenal in the same year since, remarkably, Ian Wright in 1993-94.

Given the form of both players, there is a strong chance that run could end.

SAKA BACK ON TRACK

After dazzling at Euro 2020, some might have expected Saka to truly light up the Premier League this season. He perhaps has not quite reached that level, though his recent form has been excellent.

He has been involved in at least one goal in each of his previous five Premier League games, netting four and setting up a couple.

Should he continue that streak against Spurs – or whoever they play next if the game is postponed – he will be the youngest player in the competition's history to have a hand in a goal in six successive Premier League games.

Mikel Arteta suggested it is still too early to determine whether Sunday's north London derby with Tottenham will be able to go ahead as planned.

Arsenal were without nine first-team players for their goalless EFL Cup semi-final first-leg draw with Liverpool on Thursday.

They had four players away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, another four injured and Martin Odegaard tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the game.

But despite the club having only one known coronavirus case prior to Friday's testing, there appears to be a real danger of the clash being postponed.

Media reports claim the club have not yet submitted a request to the Premier League for the fixture to be called off, but it would seem they only need a few more players to become unavailable for a postponement to be likely.

In order for the encounter to not go ahead, Arsenal will need to prove they do not have 13 eligible outfield players and a goalkeeper among their first-team squad or "appropriately experienced Under-21 players", and Arteta suggested Thursday's game did bring further fitness problems.

Speaking on Friday, Arteta said: "We had concerns already before the match against Liverpool, and after the game we had some more issues.

"We haven't been able to assess the squad yet because we couldn't fly last night, so we just arrived to the training ground and all the boys are being looked after. So we don't know."

Centre-backs Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes were two of those able to play the full 90 minutes on Thursday, and both have been praised for their performances this season.

Since the former's pre-season arrival from Brighton and Hove Albion, the defenders have formed a good understanding at the heart of the Gunners' defence.

They have started 18 games together this season across all competitions, with Arsenal losing just four of those and winning 11 (61.1 per cent).

Arsenal have suffered as many defeats from matches in which one of them has not started, despite there being only eight games that qualify in that regard.

From those matches in question, Arsenal's win rate drops to 50 per cent, while their average goals conceded per 90 minutes increases to 1.4 from 0.9.

After a somewhat shaky start, White appears to have settled and Arteta can already see a strong partnership forming, with the Spaniard praising him for being one of those to stand up the challenge posed by facing Liverpool a man light for much of the match following Granit Xhaka's red card.

"He is one of them that I would certainly apply the words that I've just mentioned to his performance," Arteta continued.

"He's not Tony [Adams] and he cannot be Tony. He's just moved to our club and he's just been here just for a few months, but he has something and he wants to do it.

"He's very demanding with himself, he's really willing to learn and improve his game and he's in the right place.

"In terms of the qualities that I saw in [White] and what is required for us to try to recruit somebody like him with his qualities, it was clear [he could play with Gabriel].

"Then those personalities as well, that chemistry has to exist. We can see they really enjoy playing together, you can see that, that chemistry is there and that's a massive extra when you are looking to build something at the back."

Mikel Arteta lauded the spirit of his Arsenal side after the Gunners battled to a goalless draw against Liverpool at Anfield.

Granit Xhaka was sent off midway through the first half in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on Thursday, having lunged in high on Diogo Jota.

It is the fifth time Xhaka has been sent off since he made his Arsenal debut in 2016-17, more than any other Premier League player in that time.

Yet without key men Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who are with Senegal and Egypt respectively at the Africa Cup of Nations, Liverpool faltered in front of goal and failed to make their numerical advantage count.

Curtis Jones' stoppage-time effort was the Reds' only shot on target, with that attempt coming after Aaron Ramsdale had gifted Takumi Minamino (who had six attempts in total) a golden chance, only for the Japan forward to blaze it high over a gaping goal.

Based on Opta's expected goals (xG) model, Minamino's chance was the second best opportunity of the match – an xG value of 0.384 (a 38.4 per cent likelihood of scoring) – though Bukayo Saka had the best sighting of goal when his close-range effort (0.402 xG) was smothered by Alisson.

 

Arsenal, who were without regulars Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Thomas Partey, now head into next week's second leg on level pegging, with a place in the final against Chelsea on the line at Emirates Stadium.

"They showed great fight, determination, attitude, brotherhood," Arteta told Sky Sports.

"You could see the determination with which they were playing, they never gave up, it's extremely difficult in this situation against this opponent. Great credit to the boys.

"I don't know if it [the sending off] inspired them, but they certainly took the fight and I said to them before the game that you have to have a certain attitude to play in this ground, in difficult moments you have to act, you cannot be reactive because then it gets really complicated and I think the boys adapted really well in certain moments.

"We played the game that we had to play, not the game we wanted to play but the game we had to."

Arsenal performed well against Manchester City on New Year's Day, only to go down to Rodri's late winner in a game in which the Gunners were again reduced to 10 men – Gabriel Magalhaes sent off on that occasion. Since Arteta took charge in December 2019, his side have received 13 red cards in all competitions, five more than any other Premier League side in this period. 

The Gunners then slumped out of the FA Cup on Sunday, losing to Championship side Nottingham Forest 1-0, but Arteta suggested inconsistency was merely a symptom of a largely inexperienced side.

He said: "It's really difficult to explain, you see the performance against City where we probably deserved more, we played with 10 men then we play Forest and it was completely different.

"Today we got the level back and did what we had to do. It's an extremely young team, sometimes that inconsistency is going to happen."

Arsenal have now avoided defeat in four of their last eight away games in which they have been shown a red card in all competitions, though injuries to Bukayo Saka and Cedric Soares further complicated matters ahead of Sunday's north London derby clash with Tottenham.

"The motivation to play a derby brings the energy when you don’t have it, no excuses we're going to play the game now in the best possible way," Arteta added.

 

Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal still have the pulling power to attract the world's biggest names, but refused to be drawn on speculation linking his side with Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic.

The Gunners have been tipped to move for the in-demand Serbia international, who matched Cristiano Ronaldo's 21st century record for the most Serie A goals in a single calendar year in 2021 with 33.

Vlahovic has also been touted as a target for Juventus, Manchester City and Manchester United, though Arsenal are said to be willing to spend big to land the 21-year-old, who has 18 months to run on his contract.

However, according to fresh reports on Wednesday, Vlahovic will only consider joining the north London club should they qualify for next season's Champions League after a five-year absence.

Arsenal have not placed higher than fifth in the Premier League since then and have finished eighth in back-to-back campaigns, but Arteta does not believe the Gunners' plight will put players off moving to Emirates Stadium.

"Historically this club has always been targeting the best players in the world and they were always interested to come here," he said at a news conference on Wednesday. "I can say that hasn't changed. 

"Every time I've spoken to a player they were so willing to come. That's a big advantage for us."

Vlahovic has 16 goals in 20 Serie A games for Fiorentina this season alone, making him the joint-fourth highest goalscorer in Europe's top five leagues behind Karim Benzema, Patrik Schick (both 17) and Robert Lewandowski (20).

Fiorentina are reportedly holding out for a €70million (£58m) fee, but Arteta would not comment specifically on his side's interest in the young attacker.

"I'm really sorry to disappoint you but you know I'm not going to be discussing any transfer rumours," he said when asked about the latest on Vlahovic.

"What I really want this month is that we have as many players fit and healthy and we do as much as possible with these players. After that we have a strategy and we will do that when possible."

Arsenal suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round on Sunday and will be looking to hit back when they take on Liverpool on Thursday in a rescheduled EFL Cup semi-final first leg.

Last week's fixture was called off after a COVID-19 outbreak forced Liverpool to shut their training ground, but Jurgen Klopp has since revealed a number of the cases were false positives.

The first leg will now take place at Anfield, with the return fixture set for Emirates Stadium next week, and Arteta will also have one eye on Sunday's Premier League trip to Tottenham.

"The dynamics have changed because the timing of the games becomes different," the Spaniard said. "It's completely uncertain but it's what it is.

"Last week's game being called off is something that is not in our control. The EFL is responsible to check every player's status and make the decision whether to play or not.

"You can never guarantee anything because you know that this changes dramatically in 10 seconds. Our willingness is always to play."

Arsenal, who will find out on Wednesday whether Granit Xhaka is clear to play after recently testing positive for coronavirus, have won just one of their last eight EFL Cup games against Liverpool at Anfield.

This is the third successive season the sides have met in the competition, while the last five meetings have produced a total of 28 goals.

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