Mikel Arteta labels Arsenal’s clash against Crystal Palace as most important of his CAREER in Gunners’ title charge

ARSENAL’S clash with Crystal Palace is the most important match of Mikel Arteta’s career, insisted the Spaniard.

The Gunners were dumped out of the Europa League by Sporting Lisbon with a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat on Thursday.

ReutersMikel Arteta says Arsenal’s clash with Palace is the most crucial of his career[/caption]

That bruising encounter also saw both William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu limp off through injury as well as leaving the squad both physically and mentally drained.

Now they head into today’s home encounter with Crystal Palace with just three days of preparation as they look to stretch their advantage at the top of the table to eight points.

And when asked where the match ranks in importance so far with Arsenal, Arteta said: “It’s the most important one.

“It’s the only game we have before the (international) break now.

“And we will do what we have to do. If we do, we will be in a really strong position.

“A lot of players had to play 120 minutes that we didn’t want to do, especially with the amount of minutes that some players have played, but we will see who is available and who is in what condition and put the best team out there to win.

“If a player’s fitness is 50-50 he cannot play in the Premier League, you have to be at 90 or 100 per cent to be at the level we need in this league.

“There are 48 hours to recover and assess everybody, and hopefully we will recover well.”

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Meanwhile, Arsenal legend Patrick Viera won’t be returning to the Emirates on Sunday following his sacking as Palace manager on Friday.

It comes after a poor run of form as the Eagles are without a win in their last eleven Premier League games.

December 31st was the last time Palace tasted victory, and they are now just three points above the drop zone.