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Arteta confident Arsenal are ‘closing the gap’ on rivals but demands greater consistency

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal have shown they ‘are developing in the right direction’, but has demanded greater consistency as they bid to challenge for major silverware.

Arsenal made a statement of intent ahead of the new campaign by beating Premier League champions Liverpool in the Community Shield on Saturday, their penalty shoot-out victory earning the Gunners their second piece of Wembley silverware in a matter of weeks following their FA Cup triumph last season.

The north London side produced an encouraging performance despite being some way behind their opposition in terms of preparation for the new season, with Arteta insisting their victory was the latest sign his side are moving closer to the division’s top teams after several seasons of underachievement.

“I believe we are closing the gap but one thing is to do it in a short period of time, and another is to be able to sustain it for 10 months,” Arteta said at his post-match press conference.

“We know this league, how competitive and challenging it is. We are in the right direction. We are trying to assess in the market to improve our balance in certain positions and improve the quality as well. But my biggest fight at this club is to convince these players we can fight with these clubs in the long term, and that they are better than what they showed last year. Let’s try to do that. That’s my job.

“Two days ago we started to have players back in training and I didn’t hear one excuse like: ‘Oh Liverpool had two weeks [training] in Austria, better preparation…’ None of that. When I was in the dressing room I had the feeling they believed we could win. They didn’t feel any fear. They had a lot of respect for Liverpool but they wanted to really go for it and believed they could win another trophy. And from the first minute they showed quality and courage on the pitch.”

Arteta was pleased his side were able to pick up another piece of silverware but admits Arsenal must improve defensively if they are to regularly challenge for major trophies, insisting the Gunners will be ‘difficult to beat’ if each of their players fulfil their defensive duties.

“We know that if you want to fight for trophies you can’t concede the amount of goals we have over the last few seasons, that’s for sure. But obviously with the ball in the attacking phase we must do a lot better.

“We had some periods [against Liverpool] where we showed we are developing in the right direction. Defensively we are solid, we are difficult to beat. Really, if we have the mindset that we have 11 players doing it, that it doesn’t matter who your name is, I think we have a really good chance.”

Read – Player Ratings as Arsenal win Community Shield with penalty shoot out win over Liverpool

Read Also – Rating the 11 players to play for Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League era

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