sport

Arteta ready for top-four test

Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal's trip to Everton could be a pivotal moment for the Gunners if they are to retain a Champions League place.

Arsenal's Premier League title hopes appear to have slipped away in recent weeks, although last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Manchester City did regain some respectability after the 6-0 mauling by Chelsea.

A top-four finish is the most likely target for Arsene Wenger's men, but they still have work to do, with Everton just four points adrift in fifth, with a game in hand.

The Merseysiders will host Arsenal on Sunday and Arteta fears his side's fragile confidence could be dented further if they suffer defeat at Goodison Park.

"Mentally, it will be a big boost if we win, and hard to take if you don't so it will be important," Arteta said.

"Some of the performances we have put in away from home in the big games have touched in a bad way the season we have had so far.

"We made mistakes and did not perform when we should have done, but we have to take it.

"Overall we have been really consistent and considering the injuries we have had, things have gone well and we have stepped up a long way from last season."

The Spaniard did not endear himself to the Everton fans after celebrating a converted penalty in last month's 4-1 FA Cup quarter-final win over his old club.

But Arteta still holds Everton in high regard after the Toffees helped him find his feet in the English game.

"It was my home for almost seven years and I have great memories from being there and am very grateful for the treatment I got, but now I am playing for Arsenal and have to do my best, and it will be needed there," he said.

"After I scored the penalty against Everton at home, some of the (Everton fans) were a bit upset with my reaction, but sometimes you cannot manage your feelings and you cannot make everyone happy.

"I just try to behave myself the best way I can, and (do) what I think is fair."