Sept 22 (Reuters) – Arsenal’s Champions League group stage win this week was a confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s game against rivals Tottenham Hotspur but the team does not need any extra motivation before a north London derby, manager Mikel Arteta said.
Arsenal have started the season in fine style, earning 13 points from five Premier League games so far, and enjoyed a triumphant return to the Champions League on Wednesday with a 4-0 hammering of PSV Eindhoven.
Spurs are also on 13 points after four successive wins, with new coach Ange Postecoglou leading them to their best start to a top-flight season for 57 years.
«Winning always helps and maintains the spirit. This game doesn’t need any motivation, it’s the most special game of the season,» Arteta told reporters on Friday. It’s a derby and a special moment for all of us. We just need to focus on that.
«They have a new manager that has done really, really well and he’s changed the vibe around the club. They have a different style too so we have to be ourselves and do the best to beat them.»
Winger Gabriel Martinelli is still being assessed and has not been ruled out for Sunday’s game, Arteta said. Martinelli sustained a hamstring injury in last weekend’s win over Everton and missed the PSV match.
Midfielder Thomas Partey remains unavailable due to a groin injury.
The Spanish coach said goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has been «very supportive» since being dropped in favour of David Raya, and that he is yet to decide who will start in goal against Spurs.
«It is very difficult with every player,» Arteta said. «I suffer and I care about every player who is not playing but this is the competition and this is my job to make decisions in the best possible way for the team.»
Arteta described captain Martin Odegaard’s new contract as «great news» for the club and the team after the midfielder signed a five-year deal earlier on Friday.
«He’s loved by everybody, respected by everybody and he fully deserves what he’s doing,» Arteta said. «When you have players that have the qualities to make you better, that’s a huge bonus.
«I think you are as good as your team, and the players he has around him elevates his qualities, and that’s why he’s better and better.»
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad Editing by Toby Davis)
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