Arsenal: Mikel Arteta vows to focus mind games on his own team despite Antonio Conte comment
I will only play mind games with my team! Mikel Arteta vows to focus his cunning strategy on his Arsenal side ‘to get what I want from them’ – after Antonio Conte insisted the Gunners were ‘favourites’ to clinch fourth place
- Antonio Conte thinks Arsenal are favorites to finish fourth this season
- Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he won’t fall for mental game traps
- He says the only games he will play are with his players to get the most out of them
- Arteta has consistently and impressively guided his side to the Premier League table
It’s that time of the season – the stakes rise, the goals are in sight, the rivalries escalate and the mind games begin. Except that all of that is mostly lost on Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.
Of the teams chasing fourth place, Arsenal are starting the break-in with the advantage and they are favourites, according to Tottenham manager Antonio Conte. Having started the season more concerned with escaping the bottom three, Arsenal are now seen as the team with everything to lose.
Asked if Arsenal are now under pressure from Conte, Arteta replied: “I don’t know.” This is a question for him. But what we want to do is clear and the perception of what people think won’t change that.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta refuses to be drawn into mind games amid their battle with Spurs
As he kept his cards close to his chest on his strategy of mind games with other managers, Arteta said: “I do it more with my players, I think, if I have to.” To get what I want from them.
Arteta didn’t want to reveal much more “because they’ll know what we’re doing and that’s the whole point!”
But whatever he does, it works. Since that pointless, goalless start that left Arsenal bottom after three games, Arteta has consistently and impressively steered his side to the top of the table.
Although the number of people who realistically believed Arsenal could go from no European football this campaign and a Champions League drought since 2017 to a return to Europe’s elite club competition in a season is debatable. This goal is now within reach.
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte says Arsenal are favorites to finish in fourth place
Arteta said the only mind games he would play would be with his players to get the most out of them
Expectations for his young side have changed, but Arteta insists his players can cope. “There’s nothing different, they’ve been dealing with it for weeks,” he said.
“It’s a conversation we’ve had for six to eight weeks, so they’ve been through it already and responded really, really well.”
“There’s nothing new that they have to do differently because they’ve done it before and are able to do it.”
Crystal Palace are optimistic that Wilfried Zaha will be fit to play. The winger was forced to miss Ivory Coast’s friendly against England on Tuesday with a hamstring injury which reportedly responded well to treatment.
There are high expectations from the young Gunners side, but Arteta insists his players can cope