Arsenal trail Tottenham by two points in the Premier League table (Picture: Hayters TV)
Mikel Arteta claims the quality at the top of the Premier League is ‘unprecedented’ and accepts that rivals Tottenham are in the title race.
The Gunners travel to Newcastle on Saturday evening knowing victory could move them to the summit, with leaders Spurs not in action until Monday.
Just four points separate the current top five, with former Arsenal head coach Unai Emery’s Aston Villa continuing to keep pace with more established sides such as Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester City.
Newcastle sit sixth, but have not lost in the league since September 2 as the pool of teams competing for the major honours continues to grow.
‘What has happened in the last five years is unprecedented,’ Arteta said on the eve of taking his side to St James’ Park.
‘It never happened with the amount of points and level of the teams. Now it’s the amount of teams with that level that is increasing and increasing.
‘That’s why comparing to the past in this league is a waste of time. It’s very different to what it used to be, and that puts the demands of what we do every single day in a different scope.’
Pressed on whether Spurs had put themselves in position to challenge for the title, he added: ‘They are right there now, and they merit to be where they are, so yes.’
Arsenal remain unbeaten in the league, but suffered a 3-1 loss at West Ham in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup in midweek.
Captain Martin Odegaard came off the bench late on to score a consolation goal as he aims to overcoming a nagging hip complaint.
‘We have tried to offload him a little bit because he had a little issue that he was grumbling with,’ Arteta explained.
‘He felt much better in the last few days, and we gave a few minutes against West Ham which was good to see, and his contribution was really good – if he’s fine he will be ready.
Arsenal’s north London rivals have a two point lead and are unbeaten so far.