Arteta: Beating Everton would give Arsenal mental edge in Champions League race

The Gunners visit Goodison Park on Sunday knowing victory will put them in pole position to take fourth place in the Premier League

Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal’s trip to Everton could provide the mental boost they need to hold off the Toffees for the final Champions League spot.

The midfielder’s former club have a game in hand on Arsene Wenger’s men, trailing them by four points going into Sunday afternoon’s clash.

While Arteta understands the importance of opening a points gap over their Goodison Park rivals, he is also looking to get some positivity back into the Arsenal camp after three games without a win.

“The game at Goodison is going to be really important,” Arteta told reporters.

“Not only for the result, because there will still be another five games to go, six for them, but in mental terms.

“It will be a big boost if you win and hard to take if you don’t.”

Arteta also believes victory on Sunday could be the boost they need to break their silverware drought, with an FA Cup semi-final on the horizon.

“We want to win [the FA Cup],” he added. “Do we have to win it? Probably we do. But we really want to win it as it will mean a turning point for the club.

“You complete a season and win something, you get some confidence and everything starts rolling.

“Look at Manchester City, and how many years they had without winning anything. They won the FA Cup [in 2011] and, suddenly, they have started to build a different atmosphere and a different belief around the team. We need to do that straightaway.

“After Everton, the cup is going to be massive. We know that everyone is waiting for us to win it and we have the added pressure on us. But it is also a motivating thing. We haven’t won anything for almost nine years so we have a great chance to do it. We can’t just throw it away.”

But Arteta’s old team-mate Leon Osman has other ideas, naturally, with the Everton stalwart in no doubt over the importance of Sunday’s game

“Even if we win against Arsenal we still have to try to finish above them in the league,” Osman said.

“At the moment they are in a stronger position than we are. Arsenal are four points ahead so we are outsiders.

“If we’ve got genuine aspirations about overtaking them then we have got to win this game.”

Osman said the possession-based game Martinez has deployed at Goodison has left them in good stead to make the Champions League qualifying round, a stage Everton reached in 2005-06 before they were cruelly dumped out by Villarreal.

“No disrespect to the team back in 2005 – what we achieved was fantastic – but we were a team out of possession,” Osman said.

“We’d basically let opponents have the ball, defend, and try to score on the counter. That put us in good stead that season and we managed to finish fourth on the back of it, but we couldn’t make the next step after that.

“Teams were giving us a lot more respect the following season and we weren’t as capable on the ball, we weren’t able to break teams down and change our game.

“Right now we are all about possession and opening teams up but being patient in doing so.

“If we manage to achieve the top four this season we will be in a much stronger position.”

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