Mikel Arteta warns Arsenal against complacency in Champions League hunt

 

Mikel Arteta has warned his Arsenal team-mates that there is still plenty of work to do before they can be assured of a place in next year's Champions League.

Arsenal stretched their Barclays Premier League winning streak to seven matches on Saturday when they beat Aston Villa 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

The win, which came courtesy of strikes from Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs and Arteta, means the north London club are eight points ahead of fifth place Chelsea and three points above local rivals Tottenham, who sit in fourth.

Arsenal have to play the Blues, and title-chasing Manchester City in their remaining eight games but they also have winnable fixtures against QPR, Wolves, Wigan and Norwich.

Arteta has been delighted with the way in which his team have dragged themselves back in to the top three after their erratic early-season form, but he also knows that any complacency that creeps in to their play could prove costly.

"If anyone thinks it's all done now, then they are making a big mistake," Arteta told Arsenal Player.

"We can't take our foot off the pedal now.

"We have won seven in a row now, which is very difficult in the Premier League nowadays, and we have done it well, playing some high-tempo football, but there are some tough, tough games coming up in our last eight matches."

Arsenal looked as if they would be nowhere near the top of the table at the start of the season when they won one of their opening five league games and another bad patch at the turn of the year left some questioning whether Arsene Wenger was still the right man to lead the club forward.

The Gunners squad are now brimming with confidence after their recent displays, however, and Arteta is happy that the Arsenal support have something to cheer about after the club's woes.

"When you are winning, life is good and you can see that the fans are enjoying it at the moment. They deserve it as well because they were behind us when things weren't going right," he said.

"Hopefully we can finish the season strongly because we have a group of players and staff who really mean business."

Arteta, a £10million signing from Everton last summer, insists Arsenal have always maintained a strong team spirit throughout their season, even when it was at its lowest ebb.

"To be honest I was really surprised with the spirit when I came here - even when we were down it was so good," the Spanish midfielder said.

"It is something you rely on because if you start blaming each other and shouting at each other it is not good.

"This group has always been positive, the manager has always been positive with the players and we have kept at it. We have the talent, we know we have the ability to win games and sometimes it is just about the balance in confidence. We have it all together now."

Arsenal will look to maintain their grip on third place when they take on strugglers QPR at Loftus Road on Saturday.

They received a boost today with the news that defender Laurent Koscielny is likely to figure in the London derby despite having to pull out of Saturday's win against Villa in the warm-up.

"It was tendonitis," Wenger said.

"I don't think it's very bad. He woke up with big pain. We tried to push him to play but in the warm up he couldn't move.

"For the next game he should be all right."

PA

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