Mikel Arteta is excited by the prospect of leading Arsenal through an “unprecedented” title charge in the coming months, with the Gunners set to resume their campaign against West Ham on Monday.
Arsenal have enjoyed a terrific season to date, sitting five points clear of champions Manchester City at the Premier League summit after only suffering one defeat in 15 matches.
As the Gunners prepare to welcome West Ham to the Emirates Stadium, the Spaniard knows how difficult it will be to maintain their form but is enthusiastic about the challenge ahead.
“We have all the red lights and alarms,” Arteta said. “What is coming in the second part of the season is something unprecedented, and we need to be ready for it. (But) there is excitement. We should be excited. We should be embracing the opportunity that we have ahead of us, understanding we have to do much better.
“I want the team to play a certain way, and the more consistent we are on that, the more we are going to win. We have the confidence we are on the right path.”
West Ham boss David Moyes coached Arteta during his time as a midfielder at Everton, and he is not surprised by the Spaniard’s achievements since moving into the dugout.
“Since Mikel has come in, he has done a brilliant job, got them going, won a couple of trophies and gone against the grain a bit where people might have thought it wouldn’t happen,” Moyes said. “As a manager, to have players who then go into management and do well is a great thrill.
“Mikel was always someone who has had a really good career. He was a clever boy and he’s stuck at it when things were a bit difficult and people might have been on his back.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Arsenal – Eddie Nketiah
Arsenal striker Nketiah has scored 10 goals in his last 10 starts in all competitions at the Emirates Stadium, notching his 10 goals from just 15 shots on target. With Gabriel Jesus set for a spell on the sidelines, the Gunners need his deputy to step up.
West Ham – Gianluca Scamacca
Scamacca’s tally of two non-penalty Premier League goals is a joint team-high for the low-scoring Irons this season. The powerful striker has only made nine starts since joining from Sassuolo, but his form could be key if Moyes’ side are to turn their underwhelming season around.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Since losing three in a row against West Ham between February 2006 and April 2007, Arsenal have lost just two of their last 28 Premier League games against the Hammers (W21 D5). Indeed, the Gunners have only beaten Everton (35) more often than West Ham (34) in the competition.
– This is the third time Arsenal and West Ham are meeting in a Premier League match on Boxing Day, with the Gunners winning 1-0 at home in 1998 and 3-1 away in 2013.
– West Ham have won just one of their last eight Boxing Day league games (D3 L4), beating Swansea City 4-1 in Wales in 2016.
– Moyes has lost more away games against Arsenal in all competitions than he has any other opponent (17), while he’s only faced Chelsea (23) on the road more often without ever winning than he has the Gunners (21).
– Arsenal have won each of their last nine Premier League home games, with six of these coming this season. Victory here would equal their longest winning home run from the start of a top-flight campaign, also winning their first seven in 1934-35, 2005-06 and 2017-18.