Mikel Arteta says next two games are 'crucial' for European ambitions

Mikel Arteta picks out the next two home games against Crystal Palace and Newcstle as ‘crucial’ for Arsenal’s European football ambitions after stringing together four wins in a row

  • Mikel Arteta says their next two games are crucial for the ‘direction’ of the club
  • He believes Arsenal must ‘reinforce’ all the things that they have ‘improved on’
  • Arteta insists Arsenal must rectify their issues at home and establish their form 
  • Arsenal will take on Crystal Palace on Thursday, before the Magpies on Monday  

Mikel Arteta has talked up the importance of Arsenal’s next two games and called on his squad to make the Emirates a fortress again.

The Gunners needed extra time to progress past Newcastle into the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, but made it four consecutive wins and two in a row at home.

Crystal Palace are the next visitors to the Emirates on Thursday before the Magpies return on Monday and the Spaniard is aware they must keep up their form if they are to be serious contenders for a European spot.

Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, has talked up the importance of his side’s next two games

‘I think the next two games are crucial to see the direction that we are taking and to reinforce all the things that we have improved on and the results that we are having recently,’ Arteta said.

‘There’s a lot of games coming up now, some important ones as well. We need to get our home form established. We’ve had some issues there and now it’s time to get some wins.

‘We’ve got two at home right now that are going to be key for the future of our season in the Premier League and the team is in great spirits. Obviously, after four wins everything looks better.’

Rowe (above) and Aubameyang’s extra time goals saw Arsenal beat Newcastle in the FA Cup 

That result made it four consecutive wins and two in a row at home for the Gunners

Arteta has only faced Palace once since he took over at Arsenal in December 2019 and that ended in a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park a year ago.

The Eagles have proved to be a bogey team in recent seasons with the Gunners failing to win any of their last four matches against Roy Hodgson’s side.

The Arsenal manager added: ‘They are a really dangerous side and they have shown that against big teams. They are a really compact and organised team and you know what you’re going to expect against Roy.

‘They have players with a big individual talent that just need moments to win games, to create actions that can unbalance the game so we have to be very careful with that. Then, we have to play to be dominant again in the game.’

Palace winger Wilfried Zaha revealed earlier this month he came close to signing for Arsenal in the summer of 2019, but the club instead decided to buy Nicolas Pepe from Lille.

Arteta believes Arsenal’s next two games are crucial for the club’s European ambitions 

Crystal Palace are the next visitors to the Emirates on Thursday as they take on Arsenal

After a goal return of only four last season, the Ivory Coast international has already found the net eight times during the current campaign having been deployed in a more central role by boss Hodgson.

‘Undoubtedly he’s a player who has done exceptionally well in the Premier League,’ Arteta said of Zaha.

‘He has created a big name because of what he’s been able to do – sometimes on his own with some individual actions. That is what the people highlight most of the time.’

Arteta is the youngest manager in the top flight at 38 while Thursday’s opponent Hodgson is the oldest at 73.

Arteta has praised Wilfried Zaha (right) for doing ‘exceptionally well in the Premier League’ 

Arteta and Roy Hodgson will go head-to-head in the Premier League clash on Thursday

The Palace boss started his managerial career in 1976 – before the Spaniard had even been born – and, while the Gunners chief is not sure whether he will coach for so long, he admitted he has become addicted to it.

‘It is a difficult drug to take out of your system,’ Arteta said.

‘If I could do it, that would be exceptional and that is the word I would use to describe what Roy has done in the game and the way he has done it.

‘His charisma, his personality, the way he approaches people, the way he is as a person and what he has achieved as a coach, is just exceptional.

‘I have been doing it for a short period, but I can only imagine to do it that long. It is an incredible achievement so my hat is off.’

Arteta he admitted that he is addicted to being a manager – calling it a difficult drug to take out 

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