Mikel Arteta has described Chelsea as “the best team in the league” in recent months as Arsenal prepare to do battle with their London rivals.
Arsenal take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. It is mathematically impossible for the Gunners to reach the top four but they could dent their rivals’ hopes of staying there. Arteta’s side are also still trying to reach the Europa League places, although that too is an uphill struggle.
Hence, this may not be an ideal time for them to face Chelsea. Indeed, Arteta was full of praise for the Blues at his pre-match press conference.
“Well probably they’ve been the best team in the league in the last few months,” he said. “What Thomas [Tuchel] has been able to do since he arrived has been exceptional.
“He put the team in two finals, the way the team is looking, how solid they are defensively as well, how composed and regular they have been in their performance has been excellent.”
One factor that will give Arteta even more to think about is the unavailability of David Luiz. The former Chelsea defender will not be in contention to play, but there are few other issues.
“Well the situation with David [Luiz] is that he is not yet recovered, we will see how he does in the next few weeks,” Arteta said. “The rest are still in contention but we will have to see today how they come.”
There will be no fans in attendance at the game, but their return to stadia is in sight. Arteta is looking forward to it.
“We can’t wait to have them back in the stadium, with the whole stadium or whatever the capacity that we’re allowed to have in the stadium for the last game,” he said.
“It’s something that we’ve missed in this process to have them together, to feel what the team wants to do and create that chemistry and get them closer to what we’re trying to do.”
Arteta outlines transfer plans
As the focus starts to shift to the summer, Arsenal will have to think about a rebuild to get back up the table.
Arteta confirmed they have already been in long discussions over their plans for the summer transfer window.
“We’ve been sitting down the whole year,” he confirmed. “We’ve been in constant communication and things will change, some things will stick to the plan that we already had and some other things will come out. But we sit down very, very regularly to talk about those things.”
Funds may be tight if Arsenal miss out on Europe, which would affect their plans. But even so, their manager hopes they won’t have to sell before they can buy.
“I don’t think it’s completely like that,” he said. “But it will restrict and alter some plans in relation to what happens with one or two.”
In recent transfer windows, the only way for Arsenal to get rid of some players has been to pay off their contracts. However, Arteta does not know if they will need to follow such measures again.
“I don’t know where the summer will take us,” he said. “I think every situation will be different and hopefully we are not in that position anymore.”