Mind games are for my players, not Conte, insists Mikel Arteta in race for fourth place

Arsenal and Tottenham are both in contention to qualify for the Champions League this season and they are neck and neck in the race to finish fourth in the Premier League.

Conte has already put pressure on Arsenal saying they are the favorites to win the race, but Arteta is unfazed by such talk.

“I do not know [if we are favourites]said Arteta. “It’s a question for [Conte]. But what we want to do is very clear and the perception of what people think won’t change that.

When asked if he was a manager who wanted to indulge in mind games, Arteta replied: “I do it more with my players, I think.

“I do it more with the players, if I have to, to get what I want from them. No [I can’t tell you how I do it]because they will know what they are doing and that’s the whole point!

Arsenal have been in good form since early February and have overcome the majority of their hurdles so far.

One of them got by without goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, who missed the win over Aston Villa last month and is set to miss Monday’s game at Crystal Palace.

Ramsdale has a hip injury and Bernd Leno, who has fallen down the pecking order this season, is due to start at Selhurst Park. Arteta praised the German for the way he reacted to losing his spot and admits it’s not easy for a player to be in this position.

“I have a lot of sympathy for every player who isn’t playing and getting the chances they probably deserve, but unfortunately that’s the game,” Arteta said.

Arsenal F.C. via Getty Images

“[Leno] has been consistent in the way he has trained, in the way he has behaved, during these months, waiting for the opportunity and, when he had it, to seize it.

“From my side, it was very clear and I was very honest from day one. Because I never said [to Ramsdale and Leno]: ‘You will be one and two’. Never.

“There is nothing personal about this decision and it cannot be taken personally.

“I can give you hundreds of examples [of a senior player having a reduced role]. When you start turning 30, 31, and 32 it will happen, I guarantee it will happen at some point in your career.

“But if it’s that late I think it’s a good sign, it means you’ve been pretty consistent because it can happen a lot sooner.

“Personally, another factor is the environment because it’s not just the player – it’s his family, his dad, his nan, his agent, everyone says, ‘Why aren’t you playing? I’m not disagree’.

“It’s normal because they all want the best for this player. But we want the best, so if we make the decision to play against someone else, it’s because we think that at that moment- there, it’s better for the team to play against someone else. That’s it.”


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