Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta says Premier League has ‘gone up a level’

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during their Premier League football match against Newcastle United

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during their Premier League football match against Newcastle United. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP

Published Dec 4, 2023


Mikel Arteta said the Premier League has "gone another level up" from last season as Arsenal seek to open up a five-point lead at the top of the table at lowly Luton on Tuesday.

The Gunners, who beat Wolves 2-1 on Saturday, are two points clear of second-placed Liverpool and three ahead of champions Manchester City after the weekend games, with neither of those teams in action until Wednesday.

Arteta's men topped the table for much of last season but faltered down the home stretch and were overtaken by Pep Guardiola's relentless City side.

The Spaniard, bidding to win Arsenal's first Premier League title since 2004, said the league was even tougher this year.

"The level has gone another level up and you can see it," he said at his pre-match press conference on Monday.

"I was watching a lot of games yesterday afternoon and it's incredible how game state changes and momentum changes in games.

"The quality the opponents have, the quality of the managers -- it's a really, really tough league and we don't know how it's going to continue but at the moment we are in a good place and tomorrow we want to be in a better place. To do that, we're going to have to play really well."

Arteta said he did not know whether his team were better than they were at the same time last year.

"I think about how we're going to play better tomorrow and be more consistent and more difficult to beat, the things that we have to tweak and how we can use our players in the best possible way to win," he said. "It's still a huge marathon ahead of us."

And he denied taking encouragement from watching City draw three league matches in a row.

"Encouragement comes from watching my team play and watching how they behave every single day, how hungry and willing they are to play every single game, the way they approach every single training session," he said.

"That's what gives me encouragement. What the others do is something we cannot control."

Arteta had warm words for "special guy" Bukayo Saka, on the brink of his 200th game for Arsenal, saying there was no limit to what the 22-year-old could achieve.

"He hasn't got any limits and he wants more and the people around him want more," he said.

"His teammates are having a better understanding of what he needs as well. He has coaches, staff and a club that wants to push him to become better. I think it's a good context for him to keep growing."