Mikel Arteta challenges his Arsenal players to pick up where they left off before the World Cup

Mikel Arteta challenges his Arsenal players to pick up where they left off before the World Cup in their Boxing Day clash with West Ham… as the Gunners look to maintain their Premier League title push

  • Arsenal are five points clear of Man City at the top of the Premier League table
  • The Gunners were hugely impressive ahead of the World Cup shutdown
  • Mikel Arteta’s side resume campaign at home to West Ham on Boxing Day

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has called for his side to pick up where they left off in November and cap off a special Boxing Day with a win over West Ham.

The Gunners have been the Premier League’s best side in the first half of the season and hold a five-point advantage over Manchester City.

West Ham, who are 16th, travel to the Emirates on Monday night with Arsenal keen to quickly regain momentum after a six-week break due to the World Cup.

Mikel Arteta wants his players to maintain their form before the World Cup stoppage

Arteta said: “We have to do it on the pitch (create momentum). We’ve talked about it a lot.

“We know the importance of starting strong and we are playing at home.

“It’s a very special day in Premier League history, it’s a very special family day to play football, it’s an incredible atmosphere on that day and we want to make the most of it.”

Asked what impressed him the most in the first 14 matches of the campaign, Arteta highlighted the consistency shown by his young side.

Arsenal have had a strong start to the season and are five points clear at the top of the table

Arsenal have had a strong start to the season and are five points clear at the top of the table

Impressive victories over rivals Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea were won, but many tougher tests lay ahead.

“Probably the level we showed and the consistency we showed at that level, which is not easy with the group and the age we have,” Arteta explained.

“We showed real maturity at times, especially against big opponents.

“The goal is to play better every day, to keep growing individually, collectively and to keep deserving to win games. That’s all we can hope for because football is a very tricky game.

Arsenal boss Arteta has hailed his side's handling of the big moments so far this season

Arsenal boss Arteta has hailed his side’s handling of the big moments so far this season

While Arsenal won’t resume their Europa League campaign until March, the FA Cup kicks off in January and Arteta knows rotation will be key, especially after a number of his squad took part in the World Cup in Qatar.

The Gunners are set to play six games over the next 28 days and have a similar busy schedule in February.

Arteta, who lost striker Gabriel Jesus to injury, added: “We worked a lot on that.” The second half of the season is going to be very different times.

“There are going to be periods when you have time to train and other periods when games are going to come quickly and you have big periods of congestion.

“It will be very important how healthy the team is, how fit they are and how much rotation can help us maintain the level we want.”

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