Mikel Arteta urges Arsenal to seize moment against Spurs and seal Champions League place

Gunners can secure top-four spot by beating north London rivals on Thursday

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Mikel Arteta has urged his Arsenal players to seize the moment in Thursday's north London derby clash with Tottenham Hotspur and seal their Champions League spot for next season.

The Gunners take on their old rivals knowing that victory will secure a top-four finish and a place at European football's top table for the first time in five years.

They hold a four-point advantage over Antonio Conte's side and are aiming to win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time and complete the double over Spurs after beating their neighbours 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium back in September.

And while Tottenham are a different team under Conte than they were under hapless previous manager Nuno Espirito Santo, Arteta insists his team should have the “inner belief” to get the job done.

“For me it’s not about the pressure,” he said. “It’s about having that inner belief that tomorrow is the day and tomorrow we want to achieve what we have earned.

“It’s more about excitement and the opportunity and when you have that in football you have to go and deliver and do it. That’s the mindset we all have for tomorrow.

“When you have the opportunity to achieve one of your objectives in the season, you just cannot wait to play the game because this is a job, and the work you have done throughout the season to try to earn it.

“The message is clear, if we win against them we are in the Champions League next season.

“You don’t need any motivation or to tell them anything more than that. The opportunity is there, we are going to play and go for it like we always do. It’s how we have got into this position, and it’s how we are going to approach it.”

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Arteta took charge at the Emirates Stadium in December 2020 and is already ranking this game among his biggest since replacing Unai Emery.

“It’s the most exciting one, probably,” he said. “But we had others when we played finals against Chelsea and Liverpool in the FA Cup and the Community Shield, it was the same.

“In a north London derby, whether you’re a player or the manager, winning is always the best factor. It’s also about how you win it and the experiences you go through during the 95 minutes or so in a game.

“Our players know what to expect and it’s up to them to handle those situations.”

Arteta has confirmed Arsenal duo Bukayo Saka and Ben White will be assessed ahead of the game. Attacker Saka was taken off during Sunday's win at Leeds, while defender White has not played for the Gunners since the 3-1 victory over Manchester United on April 23 due to a hamstring issue.

“Thomas [Partey] is still out, Kieran [Tierney] is out and with Ben, he is still a doubt,” said the Spaniard. “We have to assess him and see how he is feeling, which is much better, and Bukayo the same.”

Conte has no fresh injury worries and will have the same squad available to pick from that drew at Liverpool on Saturday. Sergio Reguilon, Oliver Skipp, Matt Doherty and Japhet Tanganga are all still missing.

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Updated: May 11, 2022, 3:39 PM
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