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Arsenal Can Cope With Pressure Of ‘beautiful’ Title Challenge – Arteta

The Gunners are one point clear of second-placed Manchester City, who won 2-0 at Nottingham Forest just hours after the final whistle at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.


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Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal’s tense 3-2 win at bitter rivals Tottenham proved they can cope with the pressure of their “beautiful” challenge to win the Premier League.

Arteta’s side stormed into a three-goal lead in the first half of Sunday’s north London derby before surviving Tottenham’s late fightback to retain their position on top of the table.

The Gunners are one point clear of second-placed Manchester City, who won 2-0 at Nottingham Forest just hours after the final whistle at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

City’s game in hand on Arsenal makes them the favourites as they chase an unprecedented fourth successive English title.

But Arteta is confident his team will make City sweat all the way to the finish line after they emerged unscathed from arguably their toughest remaining fixture.

Asked if Arsenal, chasing a first title since 2004, had shown they were equipped to be champions, Arteta said: “I think so. 100 per cent. I have seen that every day since the start of the season.

“What is ahead is beautiful. The margins are so small. Obviously, we expect to have a real go.

“Don’t get carried away with yourself. We want to be better. There are margins for improvement. Go again against Bournemouth next weekend because it’s going to be really tough.”

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s own goal put Arsenal ahead early on before Bukayo Saka fired home and Kai Havertz headed in from virtually on the goalline to put Arsenal in command.

Cristian Romero’s goal gave Tottenham hope as he punished a wayward pass by Arsenal keeper David Raya, before Son Heung-min’s 87th-minute penalty, conceded by Declan Rice’s needless foul on Ben Davies, set up an anxious finale.

They survived by their finger tips to become the first Arsenal side to win league games at Tottenham in successive seasons since the late 1980s.

 

– ‘How much do they want it?’ –

Arteta was impressed with the way his players responded to their self-inflicted wounds and kept Tottenham at bay in the pressure-packed final minutes.

“When you are at the highest competitive level it is not always going to go for you. It is how you react. How much do they want it? It is part of the journey,” he said.

“3-0 up you are in control and dominating. Then something clicks in your brain, we made a mistake, they scored and it’s game on.

“I have a lot of faith in the players but I was doubting a bit in the last few minutes. We had to dig in.

“We have done it two years in a row here which is extremely difficult. We had to suffer in the second half. Great. It’s good learning. Something you can grab in the future.”

Arteta singled out Havertz for praise after the often-criticised German played through illness to deliver an influential display, featuring a superb long pass that set up Saka’s goal prior to his own clinical header.

“He was sensational in every department today. He wasn’t 100 percent. He was ill before the match,” Arteta said.

Tottenham’s second consecutive defeat left boss Ange Postecoglou frustrated with his players’ costly mistakes.

With fourth-placed Aston Villa seven points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, Postecoglou’s side must win their two games in hand to have any chance of staying in the race for Champions League qualification.

“Disappointing day for us. We didn’t get the outcome we wanted from a big game,” he said.

“There are a lot of moments in games when we don’t sense that you are giving good opposition time and space to do things. They are going to hurt you.

“I don’t think it’s about just set-pieces. We were very poor on those but there is a lot more to fix.”