Football News

Arsenal ready to fight until the very end following another set-piece masterclass

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:00, 29 April 2024

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta believes this season’s Premier League title race will not be decided until the final game.

As things stand, the Gunners are sitting top, one point ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand. Liverpool are four back on Manchester City, having played one more game than Pep Guardiola’s defending champions.

Last time out, they survived a scare against North London rivals Tottenham, seemingly cruising to an emphatic 3-0 victory. A calamitous David Raya error coupled with a misjudged Declan Rice kick saw the hosts come within a shot of an equaliser, but the visitors held on, which strengthened Arteta’s renewed belief in ending the club’s two-decade wait to be crowned English champions.

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“Yeah, 100%. I’ve seen that the whole season,” he told reporters when asked if his squad could push City.

“They give me the reason to believe that every single day. We are right on it. The motivation for what is ahead is beautiful. We are all expecting that they’re going to have a real go.”

“At the end the judgement is going to be based on the outcome,” he added. “If they got the goal in the last minute to make it 3-3, then we wouldn’t have been ready [to win the league].

“The margins are so small. Don’t get carried away with yourself. We want to be better. There are margins for improvement. Go again against Bournemouth [on Saturday] because it’s going to be really tough.”

A key ingredient behind their NLD success was profiting from set-pieces notably successfully attacking their corners. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg inadvertently put the ball into his own net to give the Gunners the lead before Kai Havertz made it 3-0 when he nodded home Rice’s cross.

Arsenal have scored 16 goals from corners in the Premier League this season, the most by a team in a single campaign since West Bromwich Albion under Tony Pulis in 2016-17 (16), a static that is sure to bring a huge smile to set-piece coach Nicolas Jover.

Arteta, who saw first-hand how the Swede improved Manchester City from defensively and offensively dead-ball situations, described Jover as “someone whose expertise can be incredibly useful and valuable for us” following his appointment.

“It’s a crucial part of the game nowadays,” the Spaniard added. “It’s something you have to dominate and master and we are in that process.”

In between, Saka, whose delivery caught Højbjerg off-guard, netted their 15th goal of the season, his most in a single Premier League campaign, and subsequently became the first English player to score home and away for Arsenal against Spurs in a league campaign since Ian Wright in 1993-94.