Mikel Arteta expecting Arsenal reaction in season-defining games with Liverpool and Spurs

Arsenal face Liverpool in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final on Thursday, the north London derby at Tottenham in the battle for a top-four place and then the return against Jurgen Klopp’s men

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  • 22:30, 12 Jan 2022
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Mikel Arteta admits he is facing a "really important" week that could define Arsenal's season.

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They face Liverpool in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final on Thursday, the North London derby at Tottenham in the battle for a top-four place and then the return against Jurgen Klopp's men.

Gunners boss Arteta is expecting a reaction after their FA Cup exit at Nottingham Forest on Sunday but will go to Anfield amid more Covid uncertainty even though Granit Xhaka could start at Anfield.

Arteta, who admitted they are now waiting on more potential positive cases, said: "It's really important because we are playing in two different competitions that we are really engaged with and we have a lot of enthusiasm for.

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"One because you can reach a final and are closer to a trophy and the other because we are going to play a big London derby against a team that is in the hunt for the same objectives as we have.

"I don't have to ask for a reaction (after Forest) because I know how they felt about it. It's clear. There's nothing we can argue about.

"I tried to make it clear so that nobody gets confused about the standards that are required to play at this level against any opponent. Because this competition we have a big history about it. Now it's time to move on."

Arsenal are in fourth spot but Tottenham are breathing down their necks and whoever wins will surely take a big step towards Champions League football next season while the Carabao Cup is Arteta’s last chance of silverware.

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It means the next seven days will decide where they are going this season and yet they approach a pivotal week with a squad stretched to the limit.

After Thomas Partey and Mo Elneny both went to the African Cup of Nations, it seems bizarre Arsenal loaned Ainsley Maitland-Niles to Roma which means they only have Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga as their senior midfield options.

Arsenal were thrashed by Liverpool back in November when Lokonga played and had a nightmare. Arteta insisted that they allowed Maitland-Niles to go to let him get minutes under his belt.

Xhaka tested positive for Covid last week but under the recently introduced seven day quarantine period should be clear to play, although Arteta admits it is a dilemma because the Switzerland midfielder has not been able to train during isolation.

Have Your Say! Will Arsenal win the North London derby? Tell us in the comments below.

Arteta said: “There are certain protocols – when the situation started, when you test negative, whether you have symptoms. In Granit’s case, not a lot. There are players that have felt different but he wasn’t a big case.

"I don't know where Granit will be physically. I know where he is going to be mentally, he will be fully committed to play from the next minute that he has clearance.

"With Sambi, yes he needs more minutes. Since he has joined he has done much more than anybody expected. He has played many more games at a really high level than anybody expected. Now he has a great opportunity to keep playing."

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