Mikel Arteta accepts Tottenham deserve their eight-point lead over Arsenal in the Premier League and that they have simply “done things better” than his side this season.
Arsenal sit 14th, their lowest position going into a north London derby since August 1993. They make the short journey to José Mourinho’s league leaders on Sunday and Arteta is not inclined to gloss over the gap between the clubs.
“It is what it is,” he said. “The table is like that because they deserve it more than us and they’ve done things better than us. In certain moments in certain games they have, and they have got the results. We have to accept that. But we want to go there and make that gap three points smaller.”
He added that Spurs were “in the position they are because they are doing things the right way”. Tottenham will also have the advantage of 2,000 home supporters and Arsenal, having put on an entertaining display for their own fans against Rapid Vienna on Thursday, appreciate the value of their return. Arteta expects Spurs to be given a lift by the noise from the stands, but he is willing to take the hit and hopes his players can feed off the atmosphere too.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I’m not going to complain,” he said. “Honestly, I’d rather play in a stadium with an atmosphere, with some fans, and at this moment it’s going to be for them with their supporters and the next week it will be us.
“We’d better get real with that. We will bring more fans back when it’s safe and, as a professional, it makes sense when you have to handle that extra pressure, when you have fans pushing you, giving you extra energy. This is our profession and the beauty of it is that we can share it with them.”
Arteta admitted a derby without fans was “not the same”. He will hope for a better outcome than the 2-1 away defeat Arsenal suffered in their July meeting, which was played behind closed doors. Thomas Partey, who missed the goalless draw at Leeds and home defeat to Wolves with a thigh injury, returned to training on Friday and could give their midfield a significant boost if fit.
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