This week, Arsenal’s Champions League group stage win provided confidence ahead of Sunday’s game against rivals Tottenham Hotspur. However, manager Mikel Arteta stated that the team only requires extra motivation before a north London derby.
Arteta’s Gunners are off to a flying start this season, having won all of their first five Premier League games and making a triumphant return to the Champions League on Wednesday night, defeating PSV Eindhoven 4-0. Despite the impressive start to the season, many Gunners fans still fear that their side could have another mid-season slump like last year when they let slip an eight-point lead to allow Manchester City to win the title.
However, one thing that can be learned from last season’s disappointment is that the club should not be discouraged by a tough draw or a difficult match against a fellow top-flight rival. Spurs, who have taken 13 points from their opening five league games, will undoubtedly bring plenty of confidence to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday even though they are ranked below Arsenal in the table.
In contrast, the home side has an excellent record at this stage of the competition and has not lost any matches in the tournament’s group stages since 2010. The Gunners’ last home defeat to a Tottenham side was in the 2013 League Cup final when they were beaten 2-0 by their local rivals.
During the win against PSV, the hosts looked a class above their opponents throughout the match, creating many chances to score more goals. Bukayo Saka opened the scoring for the Gunners with a close-range finish in the eighth minute, while Henri Trossard doubled their lead twelve minutes later with a superb low shot. Finally, Martin Odegaard drilled in the third goal in the 70th minute to make it a comprehensive victory.
The success against PSV also proved that the Gunners are fully capable of competing with teams from Europe’s elite leagues, and they will look to take a big step towards reaching the last 16 when they face Lens in their next group match on September 26. To ensure that the players are well prepared for the encounter with a fellow top-flight rival, Arteta enlisted the help of club photographer Stuart MacFarlane for a pre-match team talk.
The former midfielder spoke to the players about what it means to be a champion at this level and how they should aim to emulate the achievements of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Real Madrid by winning the Champions League. He added that he believes the team can achieve their goal of reaching the semi-finals this season, adding that it is a long way from now, but they should keep pursuing their ambition. He also praised the work of coach Ange Postecoglou and claimed that Son Heung-min is now playing with freedom after struggling to find his way under former manager Antonio Conte.