Tuesday, 12th February, 2013

Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta believes that the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur at the start of next month could be decisive in deciding whether the Gunners will be playing Champions League football next season.

Arsene Wenger’s men visit White Hart Lane on Sunday 3rd March. At present they sit four points behind their bitter rivals, who currently occupy the all-important fourth spot in the Premier League.

Arteta believes that securing Champions League qualification generally is proving to be more and more difficult in the Premier League, a championship he thinks is without equal.

"I think that 10 seasons ago it was not as difficult to get into the top four as it is now", he told his club’s official site.

"At the moment there are six or seven teams who can get there and that says a lot about the improvement of English football.


"For me, no other league in Europe has the level of the top five or six teams in England. Every ground is hard; places like Sunderland, Stoke.

"But qualification is massive for us. We can’t be out of the Champions League because it is the best competition.

"This is the month where everything can look brighter or look really bad for the end of the season. But we are looking OK now and we have players hitting top form."

And the Spaniard sees the derby against Spurs as potentially the game which will decide Arsenal’s fate.

"The Spurs game is a big derby", admitted Arteta.

"This one is at their place and it could be decisive."

Arsenal crushed Tottenham 5-2 at the Emirates Stadium in the earlier match between the two in the Premier League this season, but it has counted for little as Andre Villas-Boas’ men have shown more consistent form to keep control of their Champions League qualification destiny.

If you like football betting, take a peek at Inside Bet! Free bets, tips, the best markets. Check out Inside Bet now.