Gilberto Silva Exclusive: Arsenal can still finish in the top four

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Gilberto Silva playing for Arsenal
Gilberto was part of the Arsenal 'invincibles' of 2003/04

Arsenal invincible Gilberto Silva discusses Mikel Arteta's progress, memories of playing Manchester United ahead of the weekend's big match and new Gunners' signing Martin Odegaard...

"I hope that Arsenal can get another win against Manchester United on Saturday but it's going to be hard. Playing against United is never easy, even though they lost their last game in midweek, and anything can happen."

For any manager coming in at Arsenal after Arsene Wenger, it was going to be very challenging. It was a difficult for Unai Emery. Then Mikel Arteta came and, for the first six months it was very good and very promising, but at the start of this season Arsenal had a lot of difficulties.

Now the team are getting into good form. They have won very important games and they must continue that progress and keep their balance right to sustain their consistency. The Premier League is tough league for everyone but, if Arsenal can maintain their form from game to game, and beat the bigger teams, they will have a good chance of finishing in the top four this season.

This season has been so interesting. A few weeks ago people were criticising Pep Guardiola, now look at him: City are first and look they like could run away with the title.

Liverpool started promisingly, everyone said they were going to retain the title but things have changed and that's what the Premier League is like.

The second half of the season is going to be very interesting until the end and it will be full of emotion. Arsenal have turned things around and if they can continue and be consistent then who knows what they can achieve.

Playing United is always a battle

I hope that Arsenal can get another win against Manchester United on Saturday but it's going to be hard. Playing against United is never easy, despite the fact that they lost their last game in midweek, and anything can happen.

Arsenal are in good form, they will be motivated. It's great to see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang happy and scoring. Alexander Lacazette is scoring and Bukayo Saka is doing a great job. Kieran Tierney has been massive for the team and step by step all the players are getting their confidence back to go into games and get the job done, which is exactly what the fans expect. Playing United is a great opportunity for Arsenal to continue their good performances and show they've truly moved on from their troubled spell.

Gilberto v Ronaldo.jpg

Whenever we played against United, there was an amazing feeling in the dressing room. We knew that the matches would be hard and we were up for it, with all the preparation in the week, and we knew exactly what to expect from them and exactly what we had to do.

Facing Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and their other great players, we knew that it would be a hard game and the rivalry meant we had to be sharp. Those games are great moments for every footballer, to play these tough matches where you have to raise your standard to be at the right level for these games, mentally and physically.

AI was part of many battles at Old Trafford, Highbury and the Emirates. Obviously, when these matches come up, it reminds me of the controversial moment with Patrick Vieria and Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003.

We almost lost that game and, if we had, we wouldn't have been invincible, but we drew thankfully. That game was full of emotion, the United fans were there, the incident wasn't the best thing to happen, but that was about the hunger of everyone to win that game. Both sides were determined to win that game, every player knew how much we all wanted to win and, if you weren't 100% on it, then it wasn't a good day to play in a match like that.

Odegaard will add quality to Arsenal

I hope new signing Martin Odegaard does well for the team. He is going to have all the support necessary to adapt and help the team. I hope he adapts quick because Arsenal need everyone to be sharp and to perform in every game. It doesn't matter who is there on the field, as all the players need to be ready.

For Odegaard coming on loan, it's a good experience for him to get games, players want to be on the pitch playing every week and when you are not there it's a very uncomfortable situation and it's tough for every player to sit on the bench. I hope Odegaard can help Arsenal and I'll be following his progress.

My compatriot Willian's performances have dropped a little bit recently, but for me he is still a good player. Maybe he doesn't always perform to what people expect from him, but I hope he can still do well and help Arsenal.

I like what I have seen from Pepe so far, but I think he needs to keep going at defenders and not stop when he comes up against them because he's fast and he has got quality. When he gets the ball he just needs to go forward, dribble around defenders and don't stop to give them a chance. I believe in his ability and quality and I'm sure he has a lot to add to the club.

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