Having watched Bournemouth’s last four matches, Mikel Arteta is under no illusions that tomorrow’s game against the Cherries will be a tough test.
While they may occupy 19th position in the Premier League table and have conceded more goals than any team in the division this term, a host of January recruits has boosted Gary O'Neil’s side and brought about improved performances.
That has seen them claim their first away win of the campaign against Wolves a fortnight ago, having also held Newcastle United to a draw at the Vitality Stadium the game before. Those results, plus impressive displays at Brighton and Manchester City have caught Mikel’s eye, and he is expecting a challenge from his opposite number at Emirates Stadium.
“I’m really impressed by what they are doing,” he said. “They are really aggressive, they haven’t conceded many in those [previous four] games and they could have had different results in two of those. Against Man City, [City] showed some quality when they opened up, when finishing the actions to make the score really big, but it was a really competitive match again.
“I’ve known [O’Neil] for many years because we’ve been in the league together, and I’ve been really impressed with what he’s done throughout his career and the way he approaches every game, the way he sets the team and what the team is doing right now.
“I know him personally as well, so I think he is doing a great job. It is great to see managers of that age as well occupying those roles and doing well.”
The game will kick-off after Manchester City have played Newcastle United in the lunchtime kick-off, meaning we could see our five-point lead cut by the time we take to the field.
However, Arteta feels that it won’t affect our preparation for Bournemouth and the prospect of clinching a fourth-straight win will be all the encouragement his team need to go out and try and put on a performance for our supporters.
When asked if he’ll be watching the City game beforehand, he added: “We are looking at the games for sure when they are live. It can become a stimulus, but I don’t think there is a need for any extra motivation.
“We know the difficulty of the challenge, we are really looking forward to it and we go game by game.”
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