Martin Odegaard’s brace at Molineux means Arsenal will be top of the Premier League table until the other side of Christmas; a barely believable situation, but one Mikel Arteta is determined to enjoy.
The Gunners have defied expectations to open up a five-point lead on reigning champions Manchester City heading into the World Cup hiatus and while Arteta would prefer to capitalise on the momentum his squad has built, he says his focus will return to how he can further improve the squad.
“We are enjoying that moment, and we have a big break. We have to reflect on what we are doing, and be very much prepared for what is going to come after the World Cup. But, our aim is to play better as a team every single day; to have better tools to do what we want to do on that pitch.
“I can say that it has been phenomenal to work with these players and staff.
He added: “When a team is in that moment, you want to carry on playing obviously, but it is not possible.
“We have to use the time now in the best possible way so the players who are not participating in the World Cup, they will have some time off, which they fully deserve.
“The rest just fulfil a dream that every kid has had, when they had a chance to represent their national team in a World Cup. It doesn’t get better than that.”
If Arteta sounds surprised by what his side are doing, it’s probably because he is. Nobody expected Arsenal to be five points shy of perfection at this point in the season; it is the club’s best ever start to a league campaign.
Asked what he’s made of the season so far, he said: “I need a week or so to do that.
“Obviously, nobody expected us to be where we are right now and the amount of games that we have managed to win, but I am more focused on our way of playing and our way of living together, the atmosphere that we have in this dressing room and around Colney and what we have generated with our supporters in our stadium and the relationship between every member of the club and that’s much more powerful, and my job is to focus after on playing better every game.”
Asked if his squad are surpassing his own expectations at this point in the season, he replied:
“Yes, but I take it day by day and not even in game by game. I understand that the better we do the daily things and we commit to doing those things better every single day, every individual is going to contribute to the team to be better and that’s what I want too.”
Those members of Arsenal’s first team squad who’ve not been selected for international duty will now be afforded 10 days holiday before the group regathers for a warm-weather training camp in Dubai.
You deserve it, lads. Enjoy!