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The former Everton midfielder believes the Gunners can beat Roberto Mancini’s men on Sunday, and claims striker Robin van Persie can do ‘absolutely anything’ on the pitch

EXCLUSIVE
By Francisco Delgado

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal will be right “back in the race for the Premier League title” if it beats Manchester City on Sunday.

The Spanish midfielder, who joined the Gunners in a deadline-day move in August, has called on his teammates to beat the league leaders in their own stadium and reinforce their title credentials after a rocky start to the season. 

Arteta told Goal.com: “We’re improving with every game and on Sunday we have a very hard test away to Manchester City. 

“We can show it is possible to come back after losing those games at the beginning of the season. If we win on Sunday, nobody can doubt we are back in the race for the Premier League title.”

Arsenal has recovered after suffering its worst start to the season to collect 22 points from its past 24 and is now fifth – nine points behind its opponents this weekend. 

Arteta said Arsenal’s 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge showed it is capable of beating the toughest opponents away from home.

“We beat Chelsea at their place, so why not repeat the experience against City? That City lost at Stamford Bridge last week isn't good or bad for us.

“We must always approach games looking for the three points and that won't change, even though they are first.

“It's true that City have a great team. They are better than last season. The new players are more adapted and they are more familiar with Mancini's system.”

The 29-year-old praised his fellow Spaniard, David Silva, whose form, goals and assists have been vital to Manchester City’s table-topping form, and said he was looking forward to a "duel" with the ex-Valencia man. 

“People speak sensationally about David Silva's play for City, but for me it's no surprise," Arteta said. "I was convinced when he arrived that as soon as he adapted to English football, he would be a star. And the same thing will happen with [Juan] Mata at Chelsea.

“It will be a good duel with Silva on Sunday. I think that's good for Spanish football because many people will be looking out for this match."

Arteta also singled out Arsenal’s captain and prolific striker Robin van Persie for praise: “Whatever you say about Van Persie falls short.

“From a distance I admired him before, but now I work with him every day I can confirm he is able to do absolutely anything on the pitch. He's a vital player for Arsenal at the moment.”

The Basque said he hoped he could establish himself with the Arsenal fans on his own terms. 

“Every day I feel better. And the most important thing is to have the coach's confidence in my work," he said.

“With Arsene Wenger I am learning many new things but I still think I can bring more to the team.

“When I arrived everyone was asking me about Cesc Fabregas and they compared me to him. If at the end of the season nobody asks me about him it will be because I have done well, but each of us has his own style on the pitch.”

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