Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal ‘have come a long way’ this season but says the club now need to ‘take the next step’.
Arsenal face Everton in their final fixture of the Premier League season this weekend, with the Gunners having shown signs of improvement under Arteta to challenge for a top four place.
The North Londoners had looked in pole position to secure Champions League qualification, but a run of six defeats in 11 games has left Arsenal two points behind Tottenham ahead of the final day fixtures.
Despite that downturn, Arteta says his team have ‘come a long way as a club’ this season and says the challenge now is to build on their campaign and ‘take the next step’.
“It’s been a long journey and a very challenging one this season but I think we have come a long way as a club,” he told the media at his pre-match press conference.
“As a team, I think we have transformed the energy of the club and we’ve done it together. We’ve done it together with our people. Now I can sense I have the support to take the next step.
“We’ve done it the way we predicted. We are back in Europe – we don’t know where, hopefully, it will be the Champions League – and after that, we want to take the club to the next level. To do that we have a clear plan.
“There’s no secrets, we need resources and we need to improve the quality and the depth of the squad.”
Arteta insisted the ambition for Arsenal must be to challenge at the top end of the Premier League, but says it will take ‘time and windows’ before the Gunners can compete with England’s elite.
💬 "We're going to be cheering for Norwich and after that, we're going to take this club to the next level."
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 20, 2022
“We are not where we should be,” he said. “This club’s history is to be the best in this country. It takes time to get there and a certain amount of time and windows.”
The Spaniard suggested there will be money to spend this summer as Arsenal look to improve, but warned the club’s Premier League rivals will also invest ahead of the new season.
“We are going to have certain resources, not unlimited resources, certain resources,” he said. “We don’t know what the rest are going to have which I assume is going to be challenging because now it’s not a top three, it’s a top eight.”
Arsenal are understood to be closing in on their first signing of the summer in Marquinhos, with the 19-year-old forward set to undergo a medical ahead of a £3m move from Sao Paulo.
Arteta refused to comment on the deal however, and said an announcement will be made when a deal is completed.
“No. When there is a player to announce in the next few weeks we’ll be dealing with that.”