Football

Mikel Arteta urges Arsenal to seize Premier League title chance

When English football's premier league returns from the World Cup break, Mikel Arteta has challenged leaders Arsenal to pick up where they left off and win the club's first Premier League title since 2004.

When English football’s premier league returns from the World Cup break, Mikel Arteta has challenged leaders Arsenal to pick up where they left off and win the club’s first Premier League title since 2004.

The Gunners were playing exceptionally well, winning 12 of their last 14 games, when the league abruptly stopped to make way for the first winter World Cup, which was staged in Qatar. Fans and commentators have debated whether the break will assist or hinder clubs’ goals all season. Arsenal are without Gabriel Jesus after the Brazilian forward returned home from the World Cup with a knee injury he suffered in Brazil’s shocking loss to Cameroon.

However, Arteta was in a positive frame of mind as his club prepared to face London rivals, West Ham, at the Emirates on Monday in Premier League action: “You know, I want the team to play a certain way, and the more consistent we are on that, the more we are going to win. There is excitement, and we should be excited, and we should be embracing the opportunity that we have ahead of us,” he said to ‘Sky Sports’.

Arsenal are presently five points ahead of Manchester City, the defending champions. When they take on the bottom-placed Leeds on Wednesday, they will be the last title contenders to play during the round of matches over the Boxing Day holiday.

Supported financially by the Saudi Arabian government, third-place Newcastle travels to Leicester on Monday. The Magpies haven’t won a major domestic trophy since 1955, and the northeast club is desperate to end that drought. Howe deployed all five of his players who had been in Qatar in a tough 1-0 win over Premier League rivals Bournemouth that sealed a spot in the last eight of the League Cup. It is still possible for Newcastle to make the Champions League since fourth- and fifth-place Tottenham and Manchester United are right on their heels.

Given their prominence, United may be under the most pressure to finish in the top four. Still, manager Erik ten Hag has stated: “I also think for the manager of Chelsea (Graham Potter), of Newcastle (Eddie Howe), all those clubs invest a lot in their squad. So for every manager, it’s a big pressure to get into the Champions League, that’s clear.”

Antonio Conte, manager of Tottenham, is sure that Harry Kane will have recovered from his World Cup disappointment by the time his team faces Brentford. When Liverpool travels to face Aston Villa on Monday, the club will look to regain its season-long footing.

Now in last place in the Premier League, Wolves will be led by former Spain and Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui, who will make his Premier League debut on the road against Everton. “For me, the only goal ahead is the next match,” said Lopetegui, who took over for the fired Bruno Lage. Lopetegui led his team to a League Cup victory against Gillingham earlier this week.

On Monday, Fulham will play Crystal Palace for the first time since the passing of England 1966 World Cup champion and Fulham legend George Cohen, who passed away at 83. The Premier League has announced that all top-flight matches between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day would feature a moment of applause in Cohen’s honour, with players and officials donning black armbands in tribute.

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