Mikel Arteta says his squad deserve credit for producing such consistently impressive performances this season, especially given his starting lineups are regularly amongst the youngest in the Premier League.
The Gunners are yet to field an XI with an average age over 25 but continue to set the pace at the top of the table heading into the final match before the World Cup hiatus.
“It’s not easy. At that age and what some of the boys have done at 20 and 23 years old is rare. I don’t know if I’ve seen that in this league,” said Arteta ahead of the trip to Wolves.
“But credit to them, they have the courage and the personality and the maturity to take the moment the way they do, and obviously they have the quality and the talent to do it.”
In fairness, while the players, from front to back, have youth on their side, most have now garnered plenty of experience on the domestic, European and international stages.
Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes, Fabio Viera, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Marquinhos are the only squad members yet to earn senior international caps and even amongst that coterie, you’ve got guys with major honours, under-21 appearances, and big money and foreign moves to their names.
Arteta is clearly pleased with the way his players are functioning at the moment but he recognises there is still much room for improvement.
Asked if there was a specific performance so far this season where things have really come together, he said: “I don’t know, we had periods and big games when we have performed really well, especially against the top opponents.
“I think what we did last weekend [at Chelsea] showed a lot of maturity and another side of the team, when we really need to show it, we did it.
“It’s a work in progress all the time and what you are able to do today maybe you are not able to do tomorrow, and you have to be on your toes to try to get the team always on the right energy level and potential level to deliver the quality needed to win. Again, our focus is on getting better every day.”
The challenge for Arsenal will be carrying the momentum of the first portion of the season into the next during an unprecedented six-week mid-season break, which will include a training camp in Dubai.
“We will analyse the areas obviously that we need to improve, the areas that we are doing well, and just focus on the priorities and the things we have to work on.
“That ‘pre-season’ for us is going to have different phases. We have to maximise that period when we have internationals, when we don’t have them, when they are back, in what state they are, and address that, and be clever about making those decisions.”
One of the areas that he thinks the Gunners can improve is the way they make use of Bukayo Saka.
As the England winger’s star has risen in the last two years, opponents have increasingly targeted him with roughhouse treatment.
While Arteta expects the officials to deal with anything untoward, he’s hinted the rest of the team could do more to help him out.
“The referees have the duties to deal with that. The better the players become the bigger target they become because people try and find ways to stop him.
“That is why football has very clear rules, what you can do and what you cannot do, and that is the referee’s job.
“You can see at a certain point it becomes about timing, the decision making, in the space you have generated before that action, and the understanding and knowledge of what is going to happen before it happens.
“Sometimes it is the type of ball we give him and when we give him certain balls.”