Arteta wants Arsenal to take title when EPL returns

Mikel Arteta has urged Arsenal’s leaders to pick up where they left off by winning their first Premier League title since 2004, when English soccer’s top flight resumes after the World Cup break.

The Gunners were in excellent form, with 12 wins from 14 games, when the league was halted in unprecedented fashion to allow the first World Cup to be held in a Northern Hemisphere winter to take place in Qatar.

All season fans and pundits have been debating whether the break will help or hinder the clubs’ ambitions, with Arsenal now without Gabriel Jesus after he was sent home early from the World Cup with a knee problem sustained in Brazil’s stunning loss. for Cameroon.

Arteta, however, was in good spirits ahead of his team’s return to Premier League action against London’s West Ham at the Emirates on Monday.

“You know, I want the team to play a certain way, and the more consistent we are in that, the more we win,” he told Sky Sports.

“There is excitement, and we should be excited and we should be taking advantage of the opportunity ahead of us.”

Arsenal are currently five points clear of reigning champions Manchester City.

City will be the last of the title contenders in action during the Boxing Day round of festive matches when they travel to Leeds on Wednesday.

Saudi-backed Newcastle, who are prominent in third place, leave for Leicester on Monday.

The Magpies last won a major domestic trophy in 1955 and such is the North East club’s desire to end that drought, Howe used all five of his players who had been in Qatar during a hard-fought 1-0 win over Bournemouth , a rival in the Premier League, who secured a place in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.

Champions League qualification also remains a real possibility, with Tottenham and Manchester United, fourth and fifth respectively, hot on Newcastle’s heels.

– ‘World class’ Kane -art

United, given their status, may be under the most pressure to achieve a top-four finish, although manager Erik ten Hag said: “I think also for the Chelsea (Graham Potter) manager, Newcastle (Eddie Howe) manager, all those clubs invest a lot in their squad. So it’s a lot of pressure for all the coaches to get into the Champions League, that’s for sure.”

Tottenham travel to Brentford with manager Antonio Conte confident that Harry Kane will have put his World Cup angst behind him.

Kane’s late missed penalty against Spurs team-mate Hugo Lloris was a key moment in England’s 2-1 quarter-final defeat by France.

“No, honestly (I’m not worried) because we are talking about a world-class striker,” Conte said.

Liverpool will try to start their season again away from Aston Villa on Monday.

Bottom of the table Wolves begin their quest for top-flight survival under new manager Julen Lopetegui as the former Spain and Real Madrid manager oversaw a midweek League Cup win over Gillingham , makes his Premier League debut with Everton.

“For me, the only goal ahead is the next game,” said Lopetegui, who replaced the sacked Bruno Lage.

Fulham’s game against Crystal Palace on Monday will be their first match since the death of club great and 1966 English World Cup winner George Cohen at the age of 83.

Premier League bosses have announced that there will be a moment of applause before all top-flight matches between Boxing Day and December 28 in Cohen’s honour, with all players and officials wearing black armbands as a sign of respect.

Schedule (3pm GMT unless stated)

Monday: Arsenal vs West Ham (8pm GMT), Aston Villa vs Liverpool (5:30pm GMT), Brentford vs Tottenham (12:30pm GMT), Crystal Palace vs Fulham, Everton vs Wolves, Leicester vs Newcastle, Southampton vs Brighton

Tuesday: Chelsea-Bournemouth (17:30 GMT), Manchester United-Nottingham Forest.

Wednesday: Leeds vs Manchester City


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