Mikel Arteta speaks out on Arsenal’s chances of finishing above Spurs for the first time FIVE years

Mikel Arteta is hoping Arsenal can finish above Spurs for the first time since 2016
Mikel Arteta is hoping Arsenal can finish above Spurs for the first time since 2016 (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta insists he will be delighted for Arsenal’s fans if his team finishes above Tottenham in the Premier League table, but concedes the season cannot be considered a success if the club fails to qualify for Europe.

The Gunners have strung four successive victories together at the tail end of a hugely underwhelming campaign, the latest of which came at Crystal Palace on Wednesday, when two late goals spoiled Roy Hodgson’s Selhurst Park farewell.

North London’s balance of power has shifted towards Spurs in recent years, with Arsenal having failed to finish above their fiercest rivals since the 2015/16 season which, coincidentally, was Arteta’s last at the Emirates Stadium.

On the final day of that campaign, Arsenal thrashed Aston Villa and with Tottenham surrendering at Newcastle, Arteta was able to celebrate the perfect goodbye, before hanging up his boots and joining Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City coaching team.

A similar turn of events would see Arsenal leapfrog Spurs on Sunday if they were to beat Brighton and Ryan Mason’s side succumbs against Champions League chasing Leicester City.

Arsenal haven't finished above Tottenham since 2015/16, Mikel Arteta's last campaign as a Gunners player
Arsenal haven’t finished above Tottenham since 2015/16, Mikel Arteta’s last campaign as a Gunners player (Picture: Getty)

To qualify for the inaugural Europa Conference League, Arsenal would still require a favour from champions City, who face Everton, but Arteta concedes that even a seventh placed finish cannot be considered a positive outcome.

‘Anything that is in our hands to make them happy and to help us to be in a better place today, it’s all positive,’ said Arteta, when asked if securing local bragging rights would represent an uplifting end to a torrid campaign.

On whether finishing seventh, eighth or ninth is good enough, however, he added: ‘No. It’s not where we want to be.’

Mikel Arteta's final game for Arsenal came on the last day of the 2015/16 season against Aston Villa
Mikel Arteta’s final game for Arsenal came on the last day of the 2015/16 season against Aston Villa (Picture: Getty)

Only City and Manchester United, meanwhile, have picked up more points than Arsenal since Boxing Day and although there have been several encouraging signs of late, Arteta was at pains to point out that his team must show more consistency over the entire campaign if they are to meet their objectives next season.

He added: ‘Yes, it is very good but the league is played over 38 games. But at least it shows that we are able to do it and when we have a little bit more of a normal context, more normal situations.

‘I am very positive about what we can do, but at the end of the day wee are judged on what we have done over the whole season and it is not, for sure, where we want to be.

‘Yes, there’s a lot of things from September to December that are contributing to that. I don’t believe it was just one issue. There were a lot of things in that period.

‘This is my job. To identify, to be very critical with myself first and then try to analyse and find out why things happened. Whether that’s negative or positive. If it’s positive, let’s keep doing a lot of the good things that we are doing.’

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