Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta heaps final day "all to lose" pressure on Tottenham

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Mikel Arteta cranked up the heat on Tottenham as he insisted they have it all to lose on Sunday.

Everyone reckons Antonio Conte’s men are dead certs to win the top-four race and secure Champions League football – ahead of Arsenal – by grabbing at least a point at relegated Norwich.

Well, everyone but Arteta, who argues those hefty expectations on their bitter rivals will make finishing off the job at Carrow Road that much trickier. And on the eve of the final-day shoot-out between the North London giants, the Gunners chief was also quick to remind Spurs that not long ago it was his troops bossing the battle.

All evidence of how swiftly situations can change. Arteta, whose side must beat Everton at home to have a chance of getting back among Europe’s elite, warned: “We were in that position a few days ago and we lost that opportunity. Now it’s down to them to lose it!” As unlikely as that seems – Norwich have scored only once in the last five games – his comments were definitely more than some desperate attempt at mind games.

For Arteta has personal experience – as an Arsenal player – of how last-day tension and nerves can play havoc with the head. At the end of 2012-13, Arsene Wenger’s Gunners went to Newcastle needing to match Spurs’ result at home to Aston Villa to ensure Champions League qualification. They did but it was close as each scraped 1-0 wins.

Arteta, who hobbled off 20 minutes into the game, said: “Probably, I am more optimistic about this Sunday because I lived it and know how it feels. I know how you feel a few days before when you say, ‘Ok, we are going to Newcastle, they have nothing to play for,’ and the closer you are to the game, you think, ‘Wow, this is going to be a tough match’. That day we had four injured players who might not have played. We were pushed to try to be on that pitch. I had to play with some injections and then come off because I could not help anymore. Anything can happen.”

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As for the Canaries’ worrying lack of firepower, Arteta, 40, smiled and said: “It’s because they’re keeping the goals for Sunday!” However the rollercoaster season may conclude, Arteta has urged the Arsenal faithful to keep the faith with Bukayo Saka and Co. And at the same time, the Spaniard, who recently signed a three-year deal, vowed there will be no change in his philosophy of developing young talent rather than buying it ready-made.

“They’re not going to be kids for the rest of their lives,” explained the ex-Everton playmaker. “Next season, they’ll be more mature. You have to start somewhere. What we cannot say is we’re going to use Academy players and, the moment something goes wrong, not do it. I’m so grateful for what they’ve done and brought to the team. We’re sticking with them because they deserve that.”

  • Premier League
  • Arsenal FC
  • Tottenham Hotspur FC
  • Mikel Arteta
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