Mikel Arteta believes that Brighton & Hove Albion are a credit to the Premier League, and that he enjoys watching Roberto De Zerbi’s team in action.
Ahead of Sunday’s showdown with the Seagulls, the boss has heaped praise on our opponents who are on the cusp of potentially clinching European football for the first time this season.
We’ve had a close look at them twice already this season, losing 3-1 at home in the League Cup before winning 4-2 at the Amex Stadium on New Year’s Eve. With both teams looking to score plenty of goals as well as dominate possession, it is a game that should be easy on the eye for the neutrals, but one with plenty of the line for both sets of supporters.
Giving his thoughts on Brighton this season, Mikel said: “They are a really complete side. The way they are playing under Roberto and the coaching staff is remarkable, it’s just a joy to watch them play. He’s brought a different idea to the league and that’s a different challenge for managers as well.
“This is what you want. We want to be the best league in the world and we need the best managers and the best players. What he’s done with the team, after all the foundations that Graham Potter left at the club, is incredible. It’s going to be a very tough match.
“We've beat them as well, so they were two very different games. When you look at the line-up [for the League Cup match], there were 10 changes. They were very similar games in certain moments with different outcomes, but extremely tricky with the way they play and handle certain things they do. It’s the same for them with the way we play.”
Brighton’s success this season is just further proof to Mikel that the Premier League as a whole is the strongest league in the world, and shows that teams outside the established elite can mix it at the top end of the table with savvy recruitment and play with an attractive style to get victories against the biggest teams.
Reflecting on the Seagulls' growth over the past few seasons, he said: “They have a really clear vision, they’ve been ahead of many other clubs in the way they have handled and made decisions.
“The way they have developed players, recruited talent, the way they have set up the club, the people that they recruit as well is really impressive. I think they have done extremely well.
“The level of every organisation is much better than it was been before. The level of the players, the staff and the coaches - everything has improved. Physically it’s much more demanding, and every detail and every phase of play is dominated in the right way by every opponent.
“That makes the game fascinating because there are a lot of things that can go your way or not go your way in the small margins, and that is the Premier League right now for every team.”
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