(Reuters) – A north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur is always a spicy encounter in the Premier League but Arsenal do not need any extra motivation with a Champions League spot up for grabs, manager Mikel Arteta said on Wednesday.
Arsenal are four points clear of Tottenham with three games to go and victory at their rival’s home ground would secure a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
“The message is clear, if we win against them we will play in the Champions League next season. You don’t need any motivation or to tell them anything more than that,” Arteta told reporters ahead of Thursday’s clash.
“The opportunity is there, we are going to play and go for it like we always do. It’s how we have got into this position and it’s how we are going to approach it.”
A top-four spot looked unlikely at the start of the season when Spurs briefly topped the standings while Arsenal propped up the league, but Arteta’s side steadily made progress and are on a four-match winning streak in the league.
“This is football. Things turn around really quickly, both ways,” Arteta said. “Just be surrounded by good people, make sure you believe in what you do, be consistent with it and then, I think in time, things happen the way that they have to happen.
“So you need that element of luck as well, you need the element of support and you need that ball to get in the net at the right moment when it needs to be.”
Arsenal have an injury cloud hanging over them with several first team players either a doubt for the clash or sidelined.
“Thomas (Partey) is still out, Kieran (Tierney) is still out and with Ben (White) he is still a doubt, we have to assess him and see how he’s feeling, which is much better. With Bukayo (Saka) it’s the same,” Arteta said.
“It’s very difficult to rate with injuries, it’s just how they (White and Saka) feel today, that’s the last day that we can assess them and try to get the feeling basically.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Martyn Herman)