Mikel Arteta believes the momentum his Arsenal side continued to build with their Carabao Cup third-round win over AFC Wimbledon will be an important factor as they face neighbours Tottenham on Sunday.
The Gunners ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over their third-tier rivals, Alexandre Lacazette’s early penalty added to by second-half strikes from Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah.
Having lost their opening three games of the Premier League, Arsenal bounced back to beat Norwich and Burnley 1-0 with Spurs next up at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.
With another victory under their belt, Arteta feels his team are ready for a crunch north London derby, where victory would see Arsenal draw level on points with their rivals.
Asked how key the winning momentum could be this weekend, Arteta replied: “Really important.
“Confidence rises, competition brings the best out of you when you have difficult moments and the boys have managed to win three games in a row so credit to how they have handled the situation and now they are obviously looking forward to play on Sunday in what is our biggest game of the season.
“As long as we were 1-0 up obviously they were still in the game and in a set-piece situation you can concede a goal. We knew that we had to close the game down and we did it in the end and looked comfortable.”
Arteta made 10 changes from the win at Burnley with only Thomas Partey retaining his place as he continues to build fitness on the back of an ankle injury that saw him miss the start of the season.
“Yes, he hasn’t played a lot of minutes since he has been injured,” Arteta said when asked if the plan was always to play Partey for an hour, with the Ghana midfielder replaced by Smith Rowe.
“We believe the rhythm of the matches is nothing like any training session and so he needed to play and it was very beneficial.
“We didn’t think (it was a risk) that is why we decided to play him but it is always a risk when you have a match or training sessions at the level of intensity we train at.
“We believe it was the right thing to do and he was really pushing for it so I think it worked out well.”
Wimbledon recovered well from the early setback of falling behind after Nesta Guinness-Walker had fouled Gabriel Martinelli to allow Lacazette to score his second of the season from the penalty spot.
Manager Mark Robinson made just three alterations and was pleased with the display from his side.
“Obviously it was a disappointing goal to give away,” he said.
“After that we recovered well and I think we had a really good spell for 20 minutes in the first-half where we kept the ball really, really well. We possibly didn’t carry enough threat in key areas.
“It was important we came here and tried to be what we are, we want to be a possession-based side so I think it was really key we came here to be a version of ourselves and we did that.”