Arsenal star: We’ll catch Spurs like we did last year
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Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal can repeat last season’s recovery and finish above north London rivals Spurs for an 18th successive season.
The Gunners head to White Hart Lane on Sunday sitting four points behind Andre Villas-Boas’s side, who won 3-2 at West Ham on Monday.
Last season Arsenal made up a 10-point gap on their bitter rivals to maintain their record of finishing above them every season since 1995.
And Spanish midfielder Arteta said: “What we’ve learned [from last season] is that you can never put your arms down because you never know what’s going to happen. You keep at it and they may lose points. That’s what happened last year.
“We kept at it, we had an unbelievable run and we ended up finishing third. We have to look at us first before looking at the rest, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
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“It [the derby] is a very nice game to play in. We’re not far from each other [in the table] and are fighting for the same thing. There’s a big rivalry and with what happened at the Emirates I’m sure they will be waiting for us. We need to get ready for that.”
Arteta was referring to Arsenal’s 5-2 win in November, the second time in a year that Arsene Wenger’s men won the derby clash by that scoreline.
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However, on their last visit to White Hart Lane 17 months ago the Gunners were beaten 2-1, and they know that a repeat of that result on Sunday would see them fall behind in the race for the top-four places.
“It [Sunday’s game] is a big mix of everything – the passion between these two clubs, the rivalry and obviously because we’re fighting for something important,” said Arteta, who feels that Saturday’s win over Aston Villa has put Arsenal back in the right frame of mind for the trip to N17 after a harrowing week in cup competitions that saw them suffer successive home defeats to Blackburn and Bayern Munich.
The 30-year-old midfielder added: “When things aren’t going in your direction, like the Blackburn game [where] you analyse the stats of the game, it’s absolutely amazing that we haven’t won the game.
“In the Bayern game, they had a spell of 25 minutes in the first half where they were much better. Apart from that, I don’t think the difference was that big.
“Saturday was very important for us. We couldn’t lose again at home. It’s four out of five [wins] now in the Premier League so we’re in a good run in this competition and it’s a massive game coming up on Sunday.
“I think we’re doing a lot of things right, but the things that we’re doing wrong are costing us too much in the games. [If] we are able to cut out those mistakes, I know we have the potential to win the games.”
Follow Paul Chronnell on Twitter @GazetteGooner