Arteta: "You just need a second to change history"

Mikel Arteta in training

With eight games packed into a congested April, Mikel Arteta has laid down the challenge to all his players to try and make history, regardless of how many of those games they feature in.

As we battle for the Premier League title and prepare for the Champions League quarter-finals, the next four weeks will have huge ramifications on whether we lift silverware come the campaign’s end, and the sheer amount of matches means Mikel will be shuffling his pack to manage the load.

Citing the example of Reiss Nelson’s last-gasp wonderstrike against Bournemouth last season, Mikel has urged those players who aren’t necessarily first choice at present to seize their moment when it comes over these crunch eight games.

“It’s our obligation and duty to be prepared to play any minute, in any moment,” he said. “You see a lot of moments. When you look at Reiss’ moments for Arsenal, there are moments when he’s played a few minutes and made a huge impact, and it’s one of the best days of his life as an Arsenal player. Nobody remembers if he started or came off the bench.

“A lot of examples are like this in both football and the history of the sport when a lot of players make their impact. Sometimes you just need a second to change the history of a football club.

“They really need to feel it, and the best way to feel it is to play minutes. When they don't have the capacity to show what can do, they have to show it in training. We have to be close to them and we have to convince them to keep doing it and earn the right to play.”

The first moment of the run-in could come in Wednesday night’s visit of Luton Town, something that certainly happened when we snatched an injury-time win at Kenilworth Road following a 4-3 thriller back in December.

Mikel was full of praise for the Hatters before that game, and continues to be impressed by them as they battle bravely against the drop, with only goal difference keeping them in the bottom three.

Reflecting on his memories of that night, Mikel said: “It was really emotional and the way we celebrated tells you the difficulty of the match and how much we had to fight for the points, so we know what we're facing tomorrow.

“Big compliments to Rob and the coaching staff; what they have done as a club is an amazing journey. I think they deserve more credit than any other team in this league. How they have done it and what they transmit as a team and what they generate, it is going to be a really tough match.

“When you see the games that they have played - even when they haven't won, they've been really tough. We have had some extraordinary results against the other two teams that are, at the moment, leading the table. We are not top so that means that we have missed certain points somewhere else and that's what we have to put the emphasis on now tomorrow.”

Read every word from Mikel's pre-Luton press conference

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