Despite already securing Champions League qualification, Mikel Arteta is delighted that his players and everyone around the club is wanting to achieve more this campaign.
A top-four finish and a return to European football’s premier competition for the first time since 2016/17 was our goal at the start of the campaign, and that has now been mathematically secured with five matches still to play, but while the boss is proud of that achievement, he believes no-one is happy to settle for that just yet.
We could return to the top of the Premier League should we beat Chelsea on Tuesday night, and Mikel is thrilled that everyone still feels that there could be even more to celebrate at the campaign's conclusion as it enters its final month.
When asked about the mood in the camp following our last to Manchester City last week, the boss said: “Within the disappointment and the spirit around [the club], we need to do two things - recognise what a lot of people around the club have done to get us back into the Champions League, which was already a difficult thing to achieve.
“Not a lot of people were very optimistic that we had the ability to do that at the start of the season, and we need to start recognising the good work that a lot of people have done to achieve that.
“The second thing - which I like the most - is that even achieving that with six games to go - something that hasn’t happened in more than a decade at this club - that we are still not satisfied, still upset and we want more. If we want the club to be consistently with the best, that’s the mentality we need and that’s what I’ve loved most over the last few days.
“We can still achieve the Premier League because there are five games to go and there are a lot of things that are still going to happen. What we have to do is forget about what happened last week, learn from it and move on to the next game at home with our people for a London derby and put things right.”
Mikel admits it hasn’t been hard to lift the spirits of his players following a run of form that has seen us fail to win our last four matches, and he urged the squad to use the City defeat as a learning experience to reevaluate where we are, and where we want to get to.
Having been top of the table for the majority of the season, he has used that fact as proof to our players that they too have been fantastic since we kicked off the campaign in August, with the aim to keep pushing City right until the end and see what happens.
“In sport you have to accept the reality, and when a team is able to take the game to a different level and you’re not able to step up to that, you have to recognise that there is still work to do, not get confused, be very humble and recognise what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are to be better.
“For 247 days we have been with them, and tomorrow can be another where we are still there. There are five games to go so there are a lot of things that we have done well for 10 months.
“Now it is not in our hands, but what is in our hands is to win our games. That’s what we are going to try to do and the rest is down to City.”
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