Mikel Arteta has admitted that Tottenham 'deserve' to be above his Arsenal side in the Premier League, though the Spaniard is confident his team can prevail against their north London rivals in this weekend's derby.
The Gunners are currently languishing in 14th place, a plight made all the more painful by Spurs' solid start to the campaign which sees them sit top of the table.
A win for Arteta's side when the two teams meet at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend would see them cut the gap to their north London rivals to five points, and while the Gunners boss is confident his men can upset the odds on Sunday, he concedes Spurs deserve to be above them in the current standings.
“The table is like that because they deserve it more than us and they’ve done things better than us,” Arteta told reporters, as quoted by Goal.
“In certain moments in certain games, they have and they have got the results. We have to accept that. But we want to go there and make that gap three points smaller. I think it’s very early in the season to see who is title contenders or not but what you can say is they are in the position they are because they are doing things the right way.
"They are in a great moment, they are full of confidence and you can see how much belief they have in what they do. When they have moments of difficulty, they stick to the plan and they believe they will get the result at some stage and at the moment it’s happening for them.
“They’ve been doing really well and that’s the reason why they are where they are. What we have to look at is where we will be after 38 games in the league. Now what is going to happen after Sunday.
“We go into the game to win and this is the only way we are going to prepare any game at any ground. Have the confidence and belief that we can go there and win the football match."
Arsenal's 4-1 win over Rapid Wien on Thursday night saw the return of their fans to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since March due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This weekend's derby will be the first chance Spurs fans have had to return to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in over eight months, and while their return may hand the home side an advantage, Arteta is delighted to have them back.
“A derby without fans is not the same,” he added. “There are certain things that the fans produce. The momentum they are able to give throughout the game and without them it’s not the same.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I’m not going to complain. Honestly, I’d rather play in a stadium with an atmosphere, with some fans and at this moment it’s going to be for them with their supporters and the next week it will be us."