Mikel Arteta would rather Arsenal’s momentum not have been checked by the upcoming break for the World Cup after seeing his side go five points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Captain Martin Odegaard scored twice as the Gunners secured a 2-0 victory against Wolves at Molineux in their final game before the mid-season break, meaning they will sit top of the pile at Christmas for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
With Manchester City having lost to Brentford earlier the day, Arsenal now have a buffer heading into the hiatus while they stand as the only side in the Premier League to have scored in every match this season.
Arteta will hope his side can pick up where they left off after the World Cup, though he concedes it is not the ideal situation for his in-form team.
“It’s great to be where we are and we are enjoying that moment. Now we have a big break and we have to reflect on what we’re doing and be prepared for after the World Cup,” he said in his post-match press conference.
“Our aim is to play better as a team every day, to have better tools to do what we want to do. I can say it’s been phenomenal to work with these players and staff.
“When a team is in that moment you want to carry on playing of course, but that’s not possible. We have to use that time as best as possible.
“For those not participating in the World Cup they will have some time off which they fully deserve, and the rest can just fulfil a dream that every kid has to have the chance to represent their team in a national cup. It doesn’t get better than that.”
8 – Arsenal are the eighth side to win as many as 12 of their opening 14 games in a Premier League season, with each of the previous seven teams to do so going on to win the title. Contenders?
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe)
While many of the Arsenal squad will be competing at the World Cup, Odegaard will not and Arteta outlined the importance of keeping those staying at home fresh and competitive before the return to action on Boxing Day.
“He’s got two internationals before that so he’s going to be more committed to the national team. After that, we will try to prepare him in the best possible way, but we don’t know,” he added.
“Sometimes when you are in a rhythm and competing it’s much better. The players who are here are going to need to compete and have enough fitness to play in the right way against West Ham. We’ll try to prepare them in the right way.”
Odegaard’s brace against Wolves took his tally in the Premier League this season to six, just two shy of his career total in England’s top flight prior to the start of the season and Arteta praised his improvement in the final third.
“That’s what you want – for your attacking midfielders to win games not only by assisting but by scoring goals,” he stated.
“He’s changed that mentality and he’s practising a lot and he wants to get to his best and we don’t know where his limit is like many of the other kids that we have.
“That’s what we want – embrace the good moments and support them when they’re not that good.”