Mikel Arteta reaction: Arsenal boss explains root of ‘full transformation’ enabling Premier League lead; defends ‘invaluable’ star

Mikel Arteta celebrating an Arsenal win Credit: Alamy
Mikel Arteta celebrating an Arsenal win Credit: Alamy

Mikel Arteta believes there is a sense of “unity” building at Arsenal after their 2-0 win over Wolves ensured they will have a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League by Christmas.

Arsenal went into the World Cup break on a winning note by defeating Wolves on Saturday night. Martin Odegaard scored both goals in the second half at Molineux. As a result, Arsenal will be top of the league at Christmas, by a margin of five points.

It is a symbol of the progress they have been making under Mikel Arteta this season. Their target will, of course, be to preserve their momentum after the World Cup.

In the meantime, Arteta will have plenty of things to reflect on. For now, he is happy to embrace the “full transformation” they are undergoing with the help of their supporters.

He told Sky Sports: “Our focus is to be better every day and we still have things to improve.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in this position. It’s a full transformation from the fans’ energy and passion that they’ve transmitted to these players.

“The unity from the top to every single member of the team and the staff, they [the fans] are the soul of this football club.”

Arsenal were better in virtually every department statistically against Wolves, but had to wait until the second half for their breakthrough.

Even so, Arteta was impressed with the patience and purpose of their approach.

He explained: “Today was about being very patient. The game they proposed made it difficult with very little space. It was frustrating because they were waiting on that mistake to catch us on the break.

“The speed, the purpose and the courage to take more initiative was much better in the second half and then they won the game.”

Mikel Arteta explains early Granit Xhaka switch

In the first half, Arteta had to make a change within just over quarter of an hour. Granit Xhaka went off to be replaced by Fabio Vieira.

Explaining why, Arteta said: “He wasn’t feeling good; he was feeling sick. We have four more players with those symptoms.

“The good thing is that in context under the circumstances we still came here and won.”

Indeed, Arsenal’s overall mentality has been impressing Arteta throughout the course of the week.

The Spaniard said: “The whole week there’s been a lot of talk about individuals and about us collectively. Mentally it was a tricky one but that’s the mentality you have to have when you’re at the top.”

Arsenal can now enjoy being at the top of the Premier League for over a month. After they return, they will hope to stay there for as long as possible.

It might help if they could get Gabriel Jesus among the goals again. The summer signing did put the ball in the back of the net at one point, but was offside, so his goal drought has continued.

Arteta has defended the Brazilian, though, highlighting the “invaluable” work he has been doing for the team.

He said: “We’re feeling it for him because his work is invaluable. But this is where we are. The love that his teammates and coaching staff have for him speaks for itself and hopefully he feels that.”

Arsenal will be back in action on Boxing Day when they welcome West Ham to the Emirates Stadium.

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