Leandro Trossard, Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka


Bukayo Saka says Arsenal must avoid cracking under the pressure of the Premier League title race ahead of their north London derby with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Liverpool’s hopes of clinching the title took a major blow after suffering a shock defeat to Everton on Wednesday night. The Reds then drew with West Ham on Saturday to remain third in the table, one point behind Man City – who have played two games fewer – and two below Arsenal in first place.

Saka, who watched the Merseyside derby from home, is determined to ensure his Gunners don’t experience a similar fate at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The 22-year-old said: “I try not to read too much into those games, but at the same time it shows that you have to be 100 per cent focused on every game.

“Each team, or most of the teams, have something to play for. Each game is like a final for all of us competing for the title, especially Sunday. With it being a north London derby as well, it’s going to be even bigger as a game. I’m just focused on performing.”

Saka added: “I know what it means to myself, to my family and friends, and obviously to our fans, to beat Tottenham.

“On the weekend, it’s about more than beating Tottenham. There’s a Premier League title race that we are in, we know those points are so important to us. We need to focus on getting those three points and try to block everything else out.”

Sunday’s derby is expected to be intense, as history has shown, and Saka understands he can’t shy away from the physical challenges, even if it means risking injury.

Leandro Trossard, Declan Rice, Bukayo SakaLeandro Trossard, Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka

Saka and Arsenal remain in the title hunt / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

“I feel like I’m physically much stronger than I was four or five years ago – for each tackle,” he said.

“I have more experience in terms of which ones to go for and which ones to jump, to try to avoid a big tackle. So I’m much smarter as well as physically stronger than I was.

“I don’t try and put negative thoughts in my head because then I’ll start to be more shy in the duels and then it will affect my game. So I don’t really worry.

“There’s two elements. The first is that the defenders can’t do that all game. They will get yellow carded and then they have to stop. The second element is that, as an attacking player, you are in the team to score goals, create goals.

“Part of that is going to involve having to beat defenders and they’re going to try their best to stop you. One way they like to stop you is kicking you. But just because you get a kick, you can’t hide away.

“A lot of the time, if I stay on the floor for too long it breaks the momentum for the team, so I just try and get on with it. The hunger to win keeps me going. That’s why I keep getting up.”

Saka is tenth in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot this season with 14 goals and also has nine assists for the Gunners.



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