With the World Cup looming large, Mikel Arteta heaped praise on his players for physically and mentally sticking to the task in hand to beat Wolves 2-0.
A brace from Martin Odegaard proved to be the difference at Molineux as we moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League table, where we will remain until Christmas now the domestic campaign paused for the extravaganza in Qatar,
And with nine of our players so far confirmed to head to the Middle East next week, the boss was keen to highlight their commitment to the cause against Wolves, as they showed the same desire as they have been doing all season to ensure we’re in the best possible position for when they return to London Colney after their international exploits.
“It was a big game before the World Cup,” Mikel said post-match. “[There’s been] a lot of talk, a lot of noise around a lot of individuals and national teams in the last few days, so it was a tricky one to prepare for but I thought the boys were mentally ready.
“Physically, they gave absolutely everything, and they showed again, in a very different game to Chelsea, a lot of maturity and understanding of what to do to come out and get the three points.”
It took until the 55th minute to break down a stubborn home defence, but Mikel feels some tactical tweaks at the internal made all the difference and claim the victory our performance merited.
“We had to be patient, we had to speed the game up a little bit and we had to have more courage to attack in certain areas,” he said of his half-time team talk. “At the same time, we had to control the two front players because they were ready to run and they are incredibly good in open spaces.
“But we cannot play with an eye looking back, and we went for it. We could have scored another one or two. I'm really happy with a clean sheet again and winning the game.”
With us not playing again until Boxing Day when West Ham United come to Emirates Stadium, Gooners around the world can celebrate Christmas with us sitting on top of the Premier League tree.
While he admits he’ll remain as diligent as always during the break, Mikel is delighted to be able to give our supporters that present as a reward for their excellent backing.
“They can enjoy it and embrace the moment,” he said. “They should feel part of what's happening because they have an incredible power, the way they have transformed the club, the unity they have generated all across the club, and the players are delighted.
“I will have a few days break and then we'll just have to prepare, because this period I think is going to be key. It's going to be demanding, it's going to be challenging. We need to be ready for it.”
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