MIKEL ARTETA has challenged Arsenal to aim higher than the top four as they want to end their nightmare with Liverpool on Saturday.
The Gunners boss believes a new spirit of optimism is pervading the club thanks to Emirates’ mass clean.
Arteta still plays when Arsenal last won a game at Anfield in September 2012.
Since then, they have picked up just two points from eight games and conceded 28 times.
But now they have come to Merseyside to defend their 10-match unbeaten run and are cautiously optimistic about the challenge of qualifying for the Champions League again.
“For me, it’s positive when people talk about being in the top four,” said Arteta. It means there is excitement and people want to motivate us.
“But this club is to be the best, not even to finish fourth. That history is always there, giving us the drive and the energy to achieve our greatest goals.
“If you don’t have that mentality, you cannot play for this club. The level of expectations should always be at the highest level.”
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However, that ambition hasn’t always been the case during Arteta’s time at the helm, and it took a grueling dressing room overhaul to energize to move forward with a positive attitude.
Experienced campaigners Mesut Ozil, David Luiz, Willian, Hector Bellerin, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi have all been launched this year and replaced with the enthusiasm of the Premier League’s youngest team.
Arteta admits: “The decisions we make regarding transfers are for two reasons and the first is because we want to have a healthy mentality, to be competitive and to win in the dressing room.
“Then we wanted to increase the quality and specificity of the players and the way we wanted the team to play.
“One of the main things I wanted to do was switch the energy at the club because there was a lot of difficulty in that sense when I took the job here.
“But we never expected that our stadium would be empty for 18 months, so that intention became unviable.
“But now I can see a really big change and the impact on the performance of our players and the level of our team is huge.
“For me, it’s not about the age of the player. Whether they are 20 or 33 years old, we have players who are extremely important to the team and contribute in a big way.
“But this group of us have only been together for three months since the transfer window closed. They haven’t been through anything yet.
“They still need maturity and hopefully that will come soon, but we can’t predict how they will react to certain situations because of the experiences from the time they got together until the end. Now it’s just pretty positive.”
It’s hard to believe that Arsenal’s pace of change after their worst ever start to the Premier League left them bottom of the table in September.
They’re in fifth place right now, and their scores since last year’s Gift Day should really put them in the top four of the past 35 games.
“It shows that we have the quality to be in the top positions but the consistency is still not good enough to be there,” Arteta said.
“That’s where we need to improve and that’s our next challenge.”
But from personal experience, he knows how quickly things can fall apart against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team.
He said: “Going to Anfield is always a big challenge because it is such a fascinating stadium to play in.
“You have to raise your level to the utmost emotional, physical and tactical standards and be prepared to suffer at certain times. Otherwise, you will be exposed.
“But if you can do that, there aren’t many better grounds to feel that you are a suitable player.
“I know our recent record at Anfield but if you don’t believe you can go there and win, you shouldn’t leave.
“So I’m confident we can go there and beat them because the expectation of this club is to always be the best.”
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https://www.the-sun.com/sport/premier-league/4106174/mikel-arteta-arsenal-challenge-liverpool/ Mikel Arteta challenges Arsenal in high form to aim higher than top four as Gunners aim to end Anfield nightmare with Liverpool