Ahead of tomorrow night’s crucial game against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium, Mikel Arteta believes our primary focus must remain on ourselves.
A draw against Southampton last Friday saw us extend our advantage at the top of the Premier League table to five points, and we have the chance to build on that lead in tomorrow’s game against our closest title challengers.
Speaking to the media ahead of the game, Mikel discussed the threat Man City poses and how he plans to overcome it.
“Obviously, we have worked on their threat as well as we have worked on their weaknesses and we know where they are,” the boss said. “The issue with City is that they start with the goalkeeper - they are a threat when the ball is with him. You have to control every single player.
“But we just focus on ourselves: we know what they want to do, what they’re going to try to do and they can do various things. They can play with a box inside, they can play with a diamond, they can build the game with three, they can be asymmetric on one side, they can pull one out on the right and play a diamond, they can put [Kyle] Walker higher.
He added: “They can do so many things that you have to be able to adapt to, so you have to focus on certain principles to try and play the game how you want.”
We have faced Man City twice this season and narrowly lost on both occasions - going out of the FA Cup to Nathan Ake’s goal in January before we were undone in a tactical affair at Emirates Stadium a month later.
Our Gunners haven’t lost since, bouncing back from that particular defeat by winning our next seven league games. Although Mikel is wary about Man City’s ability to damage teams, he believes if we focus on ourselves we can cause Pep Guardiola’s side problems this time around.
“We have to focus a lot on ourselves,” he insisted. “But we still need to understand what they can do. We have to be prepared for those changes, which is a lot because of what they can do in the beginning, they can do that in 20 minutes, at half-time, and in the last 20 minutes.
“You have to be really prepared for that. But this cannot absorb your energy to be constantly adapting to what they do and we have to focus on our strengths in how we can cause them problems.”
Mikel also thinks our league-best form away from home can help us both tomorrow night and in our push for the title.
“Yeah, it's going to be a tough night and challenge. Yes, but the opportunity is incredible for us. We knew from the beginning, if you want to win the Premier League, you have to go to Spurs and you have to beat them.
“You have to go to Chelsea and you have to beat them. You have to go away from home and you have to beat them. This is what we've been doing. That's why we are here.
“Now we have to go to City and we have to beat them. If you want to be champions, you have to win those matches. It's as simple as that.”
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