In an exclusive interview with Marca, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has shared his experience over the Premier League title race with Manchester City last season.
The Gunners had a brilliant start to the top-flight campaign last term, and they were five points clear of Pep Guardiola’s side at the top during the World Cup.
The north London giants continued to sustain their advantage after the tournament, but fell off after a run of three points in four games in the month of April.
Arsenal eventually finished five points behind the Cityzens, who went on to do the continental treble for the first time in their history.
When asked about the experience, the Gunner boss said that the achievement was to win it and the club have high standards.
While Arsenal had a disappointing end to the season, Arteta insisted that his young team need to be applauded for their efforts.
Arteta said: “The achievement was to win it. This is Arsenal and the standards are high. To this day, it still hurts me deep inside not to have won the Premiership after 10 months of fighting with City.”
“But that’s sport. Having said that, what we achieved with such a young team is to be applauded. That’s clear to me as well.”
Meanwhile, Arteta refused to speak on the reported €100m plus price tag on Declan Rice, but was more open over Kai Havertz.
The Spaniard said that talent has a price, and highlighted the age and versatility of Havertz, who is expected to join Arsenal.
He added: “[On Rice] I can’t talk about players who are not at the club. I prefer not to say anything.
“[On Havertz] Talent has a price and, at Arsenal, we are always interested in young players with experience.”
“I repeat, I am not talking about players from other clubs, but, in the case of Kai, he has already shown a lot, including a Champions League. He is a talented, versatile player and he is only 24 years old.”
When pressed over the reported interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Arteta stated that he is clearly happy at Arsenal and feels loved by the club’s owners. He is tremendously grateful to be managing the club.
He further said: “I can only say that I am happy at Arsenal. I feel loved, valued by our owners, Stan and Josh [the two Kroenkes], and I have a lot to do here at this club. I am happy and tremendously grateful to be at Arsenal.”
Arsenal fell short in the title race last season and this was partly influenced by injuries. The absence of William Saliba was a huge blow in the final months of the campaign. The club dropped costly points without the centre-back.
The Gunners need to add quality and depth in their squad to challenge the Cityzens for the league title again. The process seems to be underway. Havertz should be a good acquisition with his ability to play anywhere in attack.
Similarly, Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber would be top-class signings. Both players have given the green light to join the Gunners this summer, but the onus is on the hierarchy to finalise deals with West Ham United and Ajax.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com