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The Spaniard has overseen a dramatic turnaround in Arsenal’s fortunes, leading the club to the top of the Premier League table after a rollercoaster run of results.Arsenal currently sit five points clear of nearest challengers Manchester City with 12 games to go – defying pre-season expectations that saw many predict the Gunners to simply be in the race for Champions League qualification.Barring a dramatic late collapse, a return to Europe’s top table is all but assured after a six-year absence, when Arsene Wenger was still in charge of Arsenal.Arteta’s success has seen him tipped by reports in Spain to succeed Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid, who is under pressure at the Bernabeu after slipping nine points behind arch-rivals Barcelona in the La Liga title race.

Those links were put to Arteta during his pre-match press conference ahead of the Europa League last 16 first leg tie with Sporting CP, but he was quick to assert his focus is solely on Arsenal.”It’s things that managers or players can’t control what is written,” Arteta said. “What I can tell is that I’m fully focused on what I’m doing here and extremely proud and grateful to do what I’m doing in this football club. That’s it.”Arteta previously served as Pep Guardiola’s assistant manager at Manchester City before taking the reins at Arsenal in 2019 – his first role as a number one.As for Ancelotti, he returned to Real Madrid for a second stint as manager in 2021 and led the club to a La Liga and Champions League double last season.A 5-2 win over Liverpool at Anfield has put Real in a strong position to qualify for this season’s quarter-finals of the latter, but their domestic form has caused concern among the club’s hierarchy and sections of supporters.

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