Mikel Arteta says competing in the Champions League is ‘one the best feelings you can have’ in football as Arsenal look to move closer to a top four finish against Wolves.
Arsenal host Wolves in the Premier League on Thursday evening, with both sides in contention to finish inside the top four and secure Champions League qualification for next season.
Wolves have impressed under the guidance of Bruno Lage this season and have won five out of six league fixtures in 2022, including victories over fellow top-four contenders, Manchester United and Tottenham.
It is the second time in just three fixtures that the two teams will meet after Arsenal secured a 1-0 win at Molineux on February 10 and Arteta is expecting another tough test against the in-form Midlands outfit.
“I think they’ve been really consistent. What the manager and the coaching staff are doing it’s exceptional,” Arteta told his pre-match press conference.
“They’ve been in a really good run over the years, they have a really clear way of playing. They are a very good team, it will be hard to beat them and it will be tough tomorrow.”
Arteta praised the recruitment at Wolves in recent seasons, with the club having turned into a competitive outfit at the top end of the Premier League.
Wolves also boast the division’s second-best defence this season and Arteta believes Lage’s side possess a combination of qualities that can lead to a positive season.
“First of all, the recruitment that they have and the players that they have brought in, with the qualities, with the characters and the specificity with which they play. Obviously the defensive performances that they’ve put in have been superb with the amount of goals that they’ve conceded.
“With the creativity that they have and the goal threat that they have, that combination is always going to be a positive outcome.”
Just two points currently separate the two sides in the Premier League table and Arteta has insisted his players are well aware of the importance of a potentially crucial clash in their campaign.
“I think they know. They know what every game means for us. We know how close it will be right until the end, we’ve seen a lot of different results that you don’t really expect. We play at home and the importance of getting the points when we play at home is going to be crucial to get to the destination.”
The Spaniard also spoke on the importance of securing Champions League football, with Arsenal having failed to qualify for Europe’s elite competition since the 2016/17 season.
Arteta admits he has missed participating against world football’s best sides and says competing in the Champions League is ‘one of the best feelings you can have’ in football.
“I think for the club this is where we want to play,” he said on Champions League qualification.
“We want to be every year playing amongst the best teams. That’s what we want to do.
“I do a lot (miss the Champions League), because as a football player I’ve experienced it and it’s one the best feelings you can have. To be surrounded by opponents that are the best in the world and challenge yourself and evaluate yourself against that type of opposition.
“Then as a club you play in a competition that brings the club that brings them into a different dimension, different stage, different impact and a competition that is very attached to the history of this football club.”