By Joe Brewin
Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal have their sights firmly set on a strong start to the Premier League campaign.
The Gunners endured a difficult start to last season with just three wins from their opening eight matches but recovered admirably to secure third place and Champions League football.
Arteta is adamant the Gunners can hold their own against anyone but warned that a positive opener against Sunderland could be key.
“We have to start better than last season, that's for sure,” he told Arsenal Player. “We also have to try to keep players fit for longer than we did last season and not concede as many goals.
“This is all possible and from day one we have to think that we are as good as the other teams. I don't see other teams as better than us, I know my team-mates well.
“If everybody is fit, comfortable and ready for a fight then I think we can handle it.”
Arteta, a transfer deadline-day signing from Everton last summer, enjoyed a superb first season at the Club and quickly endeared himself to the Emirates Stadium faithful. And with a year in north London now under his belt, the Spaniard hopes there is plenty more to come.
“Every year you are trying to improve your numbers and how you can help the team,” said the midfielder. “We will see what the boss will ask me to do. I always try my best and that won't be different.
“It was a crazy day when I joined the Club. The week before I signed there was a lot going on with the big defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford and suddenly a few players joined on the same day.
“We tried to rebuild very quickly and we did well to get it back but this year we can move forward and everybody has that ambition. I can feel a different atmosphere, the Club is stable and the fans are excited. That is what we need.”
Watch the full interview with Mikel on Arsenal Player now.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 16 Aug 2012