Mikel Arteta says his young Arsenal squad can deal with the pressure of being favourites to finish in the top four of the Premier League as he prepares for the visit of title-chasing Liverpool.
The Gunners have won five games in a row and sit fourth in the table, a point clear of Manchester United with three games in hand over their old rivals.
Arteta said his side were not yet at the level of the league’s elite teams as Liverpool seek to close the gap to leaders Manchester City to just a single point on Wednesday.
“Credit to Jurgen (Klopp), the coaching staff and to the club as well for what they have created,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“They haven’t just created a team that can compete and be successful, they have created a huge cultural understanding of who Liverpool is today. The stadium and the atmosphere they can create, the support, the level, how they communicate.
“It’s a lot of things, not just individuals, or the players that they have recruited and the plan that they had to reach that level. It’s a whole plan that I really value.”
A 2-0 win over Leicester on Sunday put Arsenal in a strong position as they look to end a five-year absence from the Champions League.
Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard — all of whom are 23 or younger — have impressed in attack during the club’s recent fine run.
Arteta said the aim was to challenge for top honours.
“That’s the pressure of playing for this club,” said the Spaniard. “It’s to be the best and we are not that yet. So if the objective is that, it’s not a pressure — it has to be a motivation, a challenge, and a clear understanding that the purpose to play for this club is only to be the best.
“What we have done so far means absolutely nothing and I think everybody has to be encouraged and empowered by the possibility always to find ways to improve and get better.
“Winning another game in this league always gives you momentum. Being able to beat the most in-form team in the country would be really, really big so that’s the aim tomorrow.”