Kevin De Bruyne concedes he hopes Arsenal can last in this season’s title race – as long as Manchester City come out on top.
After the first quarter of the campaign, the Gunners sit atop the league table, one point clear of City. Arsenal face Leeds United on Sunday and can put the pressure on De Bruyne and Co., who face Liverpool later on in the day.
The Belgian knows Arteta’s qualities all too well, having worked alongside him during his coaching stint at City. And De Bruyne believes it is no shock that Arsenal have been so impressive, claiming that Arteta’s ambition was clear to see.
Asked if he is surprised at Arsenal’s good start to the season, he told Sky Sports : “No, not really. I think I see a lot of similarities with the way that we play, but that’s always been his (Arteta’s) style. I saw an evolution from the beginning of Mikel till three years later when he left. At the beginning he was adapting, but then he was getting more and more into his role.
“We also saw that he had a lot of ambition, when an opportunity comes he will take it. I’m happy for him that it’s going well, obviously you want people to do well.”
Pressed on whether he sees Arsenal as a rival for the league title, De Bruyne added: “They are! They’re playing really, really, really good football. I’m really happy to see the way they progress. Hopefully they will just not be good enough for us.”
Arsenal could end the weekend four points clear of their rivals, should results go their way, but Arteta says his team’s only focus is on beating Leeds at Elland Road.
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“Now, honestly the trick is how we’re going to prepare for Leeds. Mentally, physically, it’s going to be a battle,” he explained. “We know the way they play, how intense it’s going to be, the crowd they have. It’s going to be a challenge and we have to be at our best again to win there.”
On facing Leeds, Arteta added: “I think so [we are better prepared] but last year it was incredible even when we were winning 3-0. That crowd is something I’ve never seen before. You can sense every time I’m watching them, you can hear them also. You know how it’s going to be.”
On the differences he’s seen since Jesse Marsh’s appointment at Leeds, Arteta said: “I think with Jesse, the teams they’ve played, it’s very clear what he wants to do. Really intense and dynamic team, really good teams every time they have spaces to attack.
“It’s some similarities, obviously every coach has his own book but what Jesse has done I think, in the time he’s been there, is really impressive.”