Mikel Arteta says he is expecting a ‘really intense’ game against a side he describes as one of ‘the most effective’ pressing teams in the Premier League when Arsenal travel to Southampton this evening.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last five league fixtures and have kept four clean sheets in succession ahead of tonight’s trip to St Mary’s, though face a stern examination of their progress against a Saints side who have enjoyed an impressive start to the campaign.
The two sides met last weekend in the FA Cup’s fourth round with Southampton winning 1-0 against the holders to progress, and Arteta is anticipating another difficult encounter against a side whose pressing style he says is amongst the ‘most effective’ in the division.
“They are one of the most effective teams doing that like we are,” he said at his pre-match press conference.
“It was a really intense game [on Saturday] and we were expecting that for sure and we’re expecting it on Tuesday because they don’t really change.
“They are a really great team, they have a really good manager, they know exactly what they’re doing. They’ve been doing it for years now and they are good at it so we respect that and we expect a similar game on Tuesday.”
Arteta also reflected on Arsenal’s recent upturn in form after a dreadful opening to the campaign, with the north London side having risen to 11th and now looking towards the European places.
The Spaniard’s position has come under increasing scrutiny this season, but Arteta insists the club’s unbeaten run has given him confidence in his methods moving forward.
“Well, winning games all the time is the best way to reinforce what you are doing,” he said.
“This game is very dangerous, you have to focus on that. You have to be completely sure of where you want to go, how you want to do it and then we think about the time and the experiences that we are having with our players.
“We can just manipulate, evolve and change little things to try to get to where we want to quicker. At the moment, I am really optimistic.”