Arsenal midfielder aims to avenge Aston Villa defeat
07:16 07 January 2014
PA Archive/Press Association Images
Mikel Arteta says Arsenal are determined to set the record straight when they return to Premier League action against opening-day conquerors Aston Villa.
The Spanish midfielder sat out the Gunners’ nightmare start to the season, when they sank to an unexpected 3-1 home defeat by Villa, due to a thigh injury.
Since that setback, the north Londoners have gone from strength to strength, and recently regained top spot after a sticky patch during December, which included a 6-3 thrashing at title rivals Manchester City.
And, while Arteta believes the Gunners are now back on track after a four-match winless run, he admits the disappointment of that Villa loss is still lingering.
“It hurt a lot the way we lost that game,” said the 31-year-old. “We want to go back to Villa and win the next one because now every game is massive.
“We had a little spell where we had a difficult time but we’ve come back – we’re now on four wins in a row and we’re feeling good.
“It was a little blip but the schedule was crazy and I think we could have won one or two of the games, rather than drawing. But at the end, we are top of the table and we are where we want to be.
“We are the most consistent team in England through the year, from [last] January. That’s what we have to keep doing now through the last three or four months of the season.”
Arsenal may well have lost the leadership again by the time they travel to Villa Park next Monday (kick-off 8pm), with second-placed City and third-placed Chelsea both in action before then.
Nevertheless, Arteta is convinced that the Gunners’ title chances are far stronger this time around than at any time since he moved to Emirates Stadium from Everton in 2011.
“When I joined the club we were already 10 or 12 points behind,” he recalled. “When you are playing catch-up it’s really difficult – you are relying on other teams to drop points every week.
“It becomes nearly impossible. But I think we are where we deserve to be now and we’re going to put everything in to win it – we’re doing great and it would be massive, it would mean a lot to everyone.
“I think the Premier League this year is the most difficult one since the Premier League has existed and you have four or five teams looking to win it.”