Arsenal skipper has no fear of Manchester United after Liverpool victory
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Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta feels the league leaders have nothing to fear as they prepare to take on defending champions Manchester United.
The Spanish midfielder returned from suspension to play a key role last Saturday as the Gunners successfully shut out Liverpool in a 2-0 win at the Emirates.
That result, coupled with Chelsea’s defeat at Newcastle and a stalemate between Everton and Tottenham the following day, left Arsenal with a five-point cushion at the top of the Premier League.
Their next domestic assignment, Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford, has traditionally represented something of an acid test for any would-be title challengers – and one that the Gunners have often failed to pass in recent years.
United, who currently lie eighth in the table, have taken time to adjust to the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era but, perhaps ominously, they have now strung together three wins in a row for the first time this season.
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Arteta – who played under Ferguson’s successor David Moyes at Everton – says he always expected the champions to pick up the pace, but believes the Gunners are well equipped to deal with them on Sunday.
“I’m not surprised,” said Arteta. “With the quality of the players United have they were going to find form. Obviously away from home it’s going to be a very tough game for us.
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“But I think we have more belief and we are starting to play without fear of the opposition. Obviously when you are on a good run, the confidence level is high and it makes everything much easier.
“There are always different opinions – some people have an unbelievable opinion of us and some others don’t trust us – but that is normal and we have to prove every week that we are good enough to be where we are.”
Arteta and his team-mates certainly underlined their credentials with an impressive performance against Liverpool, who had been defeated only once in the Premier League before their visit to the Emirates.
But goals from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey – whose classy second-half strike took him into double figures for the season – were enough to send the Reds home pointless.
“We’ve seen that Liverpool have some tough players and we were really pleased to get the points,” added Arteta.
“At the end we were sloppy and we gave the ball away a few times, but at that time the game was over. I think at times we played some terrific football and they struggled to cope with our quality.”