Arteta wants Arsenal to be ‘boring’ ahead of City showdown

Mikel Arteta has said Arsenal “have to become really boring” to avoid being distracted by the prospect of next week’s Premier League title showdown against Manchester City.

Arsenal face Southampton on Friday night aiming to open up a seven-point lead at the top of the table ahead of a potentially decisive meeting with Pep Guardiola’s side at the Etihad Stadium next Wednesday.

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City will have two games in hand as they are engaged in the FA Cup semifinals this weekend but can take control of the race if they beat Arsenal.

“That’s the conversation that we had the other day and nobody’s talking about what’s going to happen next Wednesday,” Arteta told a news conference on Thursday.

“We have to become really boring to everybody and be really repetitive and just focus on what we have to do this morning. That’s it.

“My players today are really looking forward for tomorrow to get the game that we want and the result that we want, to play in front of our crowd again. There’s seven games left, we have four at the Emirates which is for them a big thing. We’re looking forward to it.”

Arsenal have dropped four points in their last two matches, twice surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at Liverpool and West Ham United.

“Maybe we got too comfortable at some stage in the game [against West Ham] which is different,” Arteta said.

“They know, I don’t have to coach them, because they said it straight away. It’s in the system it’s in their gut. It’s one thing to say it though, and it’s another thing to show it and when it comes to a similar position react in a different way and be more ruthless.

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“Twists and turns are part of everything that you do especially in football. It’s not always going to be a linear progression. You have to know that and you have to be prepared for that. The way the team reacted was incredibly positive and we want to see that tomorrow night when we get onto that field.”

Arteta also said Oleksandr Zinchenko is doubtful to face Southampton with a groin problem while William Saliba‘s recovery from a back problem is taking longer than anticipated.

“Regarding William, we still have to wait a little bit more,” Arteta added. “He is not progressing as quick as we hoped. It’s a bit delicate and we want to be very certain when we push him that he is ready to absorb the load and the risk that we will take and at the moment that’s not possible to do.

“I don’t know, it’s a bit early to do [predictions on when he will return]. Probably next week we are going to have more certainty. There is some evolution, he is doing more activity, but he is not there yet to start to throw him on the pitch at the level that the sessions demand to compete in this league.”

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