Football

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hails Jose Mourinho's Tottenham but refuses Spurs title claims


Mikel Arteta has admitted Tottenham deserve to be top of the Premier League because they have done better than Arsenal – but does not want to declare them title contenders just yet despite widespread suggestions Spurs are firmly in the championship race.

It is a bold move for an Arsenal manager to confess that his bitter rivals are better right now just hours ahead of the north London derby.

But the brutally honest Spaniard admits that Jose Mourinho’s team believe in what their manager is telling them to do, and stick to the plan even when things are going wrong.

Last night, defender Hector Bellerin labelled calls for Arteta to be replaced as “unjust”, and insisted that Arsenal’s players have to take responsibility for their recent poor run.

Arteta’s troubled team have just two wins in their last eight league games and go into Sunday’s showdown at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium lying in a worrying 14th place in the table.

This is the Gunners’ worst ever Premier League start to a season but they received a welcome morale boost on Thursday night with a 4-1 Europa League win over Rapid Vienna.

It also saw Alexandre Lacazette’s first goal in more than two months – which is timely given Arsenal’s woeful record so far of only 10 goals in their opening 10 league games.

That contrasts starkly to Tottenham’s 21 strikes – and Arteta said: “The table is like this because Tottenham deserve it more than us – and they’ve done things better than us.

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“They have one of the most potent strike forces in Europe. They are in a great moment – they are full of confidence and you can see how much belief they have in what they do.

“When Tottenham have moments of difficulty, they stick to the plan and believe they will get the result, and at the moment it’s happening for them.

“When you are planning on doing something big – changing the identity of the team, of the club – that isn’t something you can do overnight.

“When you’re trying to implement such a big idea it does take time for everyone to get used to it and it takes time to get results but one thing that I feel is that since he came he has instilled a confidence in this team, a hunger. For us that’s so important.

“I always say I’m certain that things are going to get so much better.”

He added: “I feel the team has improved massively in so many areas of the game that needed improvement. Even though we’re not doing so great in others, it’s all part of the process.





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