Arsenal has evolved in the last 12 months - Arteta

Manager Mikel Arteta says his side has a better understanding of what is expected of it than last season.

Mikel Arteta celebrates after Arsenal’s win over Manchester United on April 23.   -  Reuters

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said on Friday that his side had evolved in the last 12 months and had a better understanding of what was expected of it as it looks to secure Champions League qualification this season.

Arsenal, which finished a disappointing eighth last season, currently sits fourth in the Premier League standings, two points ahead of London rival Tottenham Hotspur with five games to play.

“We have very different players. The unity right now is completely different and is very beneficial. The team has a goal. What we are trying to do is seek improvements every single day,” Arteta said ahead of Sunday's visit to West Ham United.

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“Obviously the team has evolved. Their understanding of what we want to do is much better, the execution is much better, the consistency of results is much better... what we (started) a year ago is probably what you see now.”

West Ham, which suffered a 2-1 defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of its Europa League semifinal on Thursday, is seventh in the standings, eight points adrift of Arsenal.

Long way to go

Arteta added that there was still a long way to go in the race for fourth place, with his side and Spurs not the only ones in the running for the final Champions League spot. “I think there are still going to be twists and turns. We all know how difficult it is to win games in the Premier League... winning consecutive games gives you a huge platform but things quickly change,” the Spanish coach said.

Winger Bukayo Saka is fit to face West Ham after going off in the second half during the 3-1 win against Manchester United last weekend, but midfielder Thomas Partey is unlikely to feature again this season. “Hopefully he (Saka) will be fine. He had some issues in the final part of the game but he's recovered well,” said Arteta. “(Partey) is progressing but he had a significant injury so we don't expect him to make progress quickly enough to see him again this season.”

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