Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists finishing above Tottenham is 'nowhere near enough' as he targets glory

MIKEL ARTETA is not getting too excited at the prospect of celebrating St Totteringham’s Day again — as Arsenal are nowhere near where they should be.

If Spurs fail to win at Leicester tomorrow, the Gunners can overtake their bitter local rivals with a final-day home victory over Brighton.

That would be the first time since 2016 that Arsenal have finished the season as top dogs of North London after 22 unbroken years of lording it over the mob from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

And the prospect of nicking the last European spot from Spurs would only add to the party atmosphere for Arsenal fans, who have not had a lot to cheer about recently.

Boss Arteta understands the importance of the occasion and said: “Anything that makes our supporters happy and helps us to get to a better position is all positive.”

Yet even if Arsenal do climb above both Spurs and Everton to secure Europa Conference League qualific­ation, it will not be nearly enough for their demanding manager.

He said: “We have two more points than last season — but it’s nowhere near where we want to be.

“Every Arsenal supporter should be aiming for us to be winning trophies and, when that is not the case, they are not going to be happy. There cannot be any other ambition at this football club.

“But there is only one winner of the Champions League and one winner of the Premier League and the rest of the teams all failed.

“Finishing second or third is not a big achievement but our supporters know what has been going on here.

“It’s not because of what has happened today, yesterday or last year. We all know where this club used to be, but that is the past and now we need to focus on the future.”

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While Arteta accepts his team has fallen well short on the pitch, he says his greatest achievement has simply been keeping the club intact when they have been under attack from all sides.

The Spaniard explained: “The best thing this season has been to keep everybody together in circumstances when we were not winning.

“And so many people, some inside the club and some outside, were trying to hurt us.

“Maintaining a strong block with the team, the staff and all the employees is some achievement because usually when that happens everything cracks and falls apart.

“A lot of things happened between September to December and it was my job to eliminate those issues.”

Asked whether those internal wreckers are still at the club, he simply replied: “No.”

And though he stopped short of identifying the enemy within, it does not take a genius to work out who he is referring to when you consider the lengths the club went to in paying off Mesut Ozil, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi in January.


Losing in the semi-finals of the Europa League to Villarreal had appeared to end Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for Europe for a 26th consecutive season.

But now they could sneak into the inaugural Europa Conference League and Arteta is not going to turn his nose up at the opportunity.

He added: “It’s a new competition so I don’t really know what will happen. But, first of all, let’s try to qualify and then we can look at the best ways to approach it.

“We have experienced in the last few years how tough it has been in the Europa League with the amount of games you play and the short turnaround you have all the time.

“There is a lot of history of the Europa League having negative consequences on the Premier League positions.

“We gave it our best go this season and came up a little bit short. But this club has to be in Europe.”

ARSENAL (likely): Leno, Chambers, Holding, Mari, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Saka, Aubameyang.

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