Leeds: Ahead of their clash against Manchester City, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta feels his team will have to be at the top of their game to have a chance of winning.
Arteta said his inside knowledge of City could come in handy as he prepares for a “special” first return to the Etihad on Wednesday.
The Spaniard, who was working as assistant to manager Pep Guardiola, left City in December to take his first senior managerial role at the Emirates.
He returns to Manchester with his side in ninth place in the Premier League but still in with a shot of a European place.
Arteta said he would have a clear idea of what Guardiola’s side were trying to do as they look to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat in Sunday’s Manchester derby.
“We have to be at our best, that’s for sure, to have any chance of winning the game,” Arteta said.
“I know what they are capable of. But it’s something different to be able to stop that and as well create the issues that I think we can create for them.
“That has to happen on the day, when they are at their best. We know what they are capable of doing, the variation they have.”
Arteta, who was involved in two Premier League title triumphs at the Etihad, said it would be a “special night” for him.
“I am very excited to get back there,” he said. “I have some fantastic memories, a lot of friends, a lot of people that I like.
“But obviously now I am in a different position, another bench and I will defend my club as well as I can.”
Arteta added that City were unfortunate to have lost to United last time out.
“Sometimes small details make the difference. I think they’ve been very unlucky. This is football. It can happen,” he said.
Three consecutive league wins have lifted Arsenal to within five points of fifth-placed Manchester United.
Fifth spot could be good enough to qualify for the Champions League next season, depending on the outcome of City’s appeal against their ban from European football.
Arteta said Arsenal’s recent run had kept alive their hopes of qualifying for Europe’s top club competition.
“It’s still a long way to go, we want to go game by game,” he said. “Three weeks ago it was impossible, now it looks a little bit more possible, but still (it depends on) the results and our performances.”