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Mikel Arteta claims England stars reason behind Arsenal’s Champions League push

Arsenal are unbeaten since August to boost their chances to returning to European football, with the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Aaron Ramsdale, Bakary Sako and Ben White all playing key roles

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Mikel Arteta previews Arsenal’s game at Liverpool

Mikel Arteta has claimed the English spine to his new Arsenal team is part of the modern mix which has lifted the North London club into surprise Champions League contention.

Emile Smith Rowe and Aaron Ramsdale last week followed Bakary Sako and Ben White in making their full England debuts.
And they return to club duty seeking a win at Anfield today to extend Arsenal’s unbeaten run to 11 games – and lift them above Liverpool into fourth place.

Previous great Arsenal teams had a strong core of home players with Arsene Wenger ’s French revolution adding top foreign stars.

And Arteta has slowly replaced the old guard with a new generation which blends the best of British – Kieran Tierney has been another vital signing – into a “multi-cultural team” with players from the academy and around the world.

Mikel Arteta’s been impressed by Arsenal’s English contingent


Getty Images)

The Spaniard said: “We’re an English club and we now have a lot of academy, home grown and English players. I think you have to respect that core, those values and that history as well. But that mixture, that multi-cultural team we have is very, very beneficial and very necessary as well in modern football.”

And Arteta said the performances of his Three Lions – and notably goalscorer Smith Rowe – was a further vindication of Arsenal’s quiet progress.

“I saw him yesterday and he was delighted to score a goal for his country” said the Gunners boss. “It is always special and he made us proud. Not only him, but Bukayo and Aaron starting for the national team, I think it is a great sign for the club.”

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Liverpool at lunchtime today promises a very different challenge from the stroll in San Marino. The last time Arsenal won at Anfield was in September 2012 when Arteta was still in the midfield. “It’s been a while so it’s time to do it again,” he smiled.

But in a Premier League table since Boxing Day, the Gunners would be fourth and after the worst start since 1954/55, the Champions League rather than avoiding relegation has become the aim for Arsenal fans.

“For me this is positive,” he said.” It means there is excitement and they want to push us. This club is about being the best, not even about being fourth. So that mentality and drive is because of our history. “Whether we can achieve it or not, we will see what we can do. But the level of expectation has to always be the highest.”

Emile Smith Rowe has been a revelation this season for Arsenal


AFP via Getty Images)

Arteta insisted his squad are in a better position to continue to challenge this season after going eight domestic games without a win at this stage last season. And the Spaniard also welcomed the return of crowds to energise his young side. “I really see a big change and the impact that has on the team and the performances of the players is huge,” he claimed. “That increases the level of our team.”

But the 10-match unbeaten run started after a 5-0 mauling at Manchester City. And Jurgen Klopp’s side will give a real test of Arsenal’s ambitions this season.

“You have to be at your best, and raise the level to your maximum standards, emotionally, physically, tactically, because if you don’t you will be exposed,” said Arteta. “Going to Anfield is always a test, but if you are able to do that, there are not many grounds as good as there to feel that you are a proper footballer.”

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