Mikel Arteta is ‘enjoying the moment’ as Arsenal open up five-point lead

Mikel Arteta is ‘enjoying the moment’ as Arsenal open up five-point lead

Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal are outstripping expectations after they went five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Martin Odegaard’s second-half double saw the Gunners take control of the title race with a 2-0 win at Wolves.

They put clear daylight between them and Manchester City in the final game before the World Cup break after the reigning champions’ shock 2-1 home defeat to Brentford.

It meant Arsenal will be top at Christmas and when they return to host West Ham on Boxing Day.

Arteta said: “Nobody expected us to be where we are right now.

“I am more focused on our way of playing, our way of living together, the atmosphere we have around Colney and what we have generated with our supporters in our stadium. That is much more powerful.

“It’s great to be where we are, we are enjoying that moment. We have a big break, we have to reflect on what we are doing and we are very much prepared for what is to come after the World Cup.

“When a team is in the moment you want to carry on playing. It’s not possible so we have to use the time now in the best possible way.

“Our aim is to play better as a team every single day, to have better tools to do what we want to do on the pitch.”

The Gunners replaced Granit Xhaka after just 15 minutes and Arteta confirmed the midfielder was suffering from illness.

He added: “He wasn’t feeling good at all. We had a few boys with tummy issues.”

Wolves’ resilience impressed in a tight first half where Gabriel Jesus hit the crossbar while Gabriel needed to deflect Goncalo Guedes shot wide after William Saliba’s mistake.

It was Wolves’ best chance. Arsenal did not give them another and the Gunners grabbed the opener 10 minutes after the break when Odegaard finished off a flowing move, tapping in Fabio Vieira’s cross from close range.

The hosts had no response and Arsenal looked to be seeing the game out in comfort before Odegaard added a second with 15 minutes left anyway.

Wolves remain bottom but new boss Julen Lopetegui, watching from the stands before officially taking charge on Monday, will have seen reasons to be cheerful.

The hosts were at least determined, resilient and forced Arsenal to work hard but desperately need a striker in January.

But caretaker boss Steve Davis felt Wolves should have had a penalty when Guedes was tripped by Saliba after eight minutes.

He said: “We are relying on decisions from the referee to get an opportunity. We needed that break.

“If we had gone in at half time at 1-0 we would have something to defend.

“I’m disappointed with the decision. Why do we have VAR when they can’t make the decision? It’s a waste of time. It’s a major game-changer.

“The game plan was to counter and defend deep, use Adama (Traore) to attack quickly. The plan in the first half worked perfectly.

“Goalscoring has been a problem the club have had for a while, there’s no quick fix to that. Maybe it’s something Julen would look to do in January.”