Mikel Arteta would rather Arsenal's momentum not have been checked by the upcoming break for the World Cup after seeing his side go five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Captain Martin Odegaard scored twice as the Gunners secured a 2-0 victory against Wolves at Molineux in their final game before the mid-season break, meaning they will sit top of the pile at Christmas for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

With Manchester City having lost to Brentford earlier the day, Arsenal now have a buffer heading into the hiatus while they stand as the only side in the Premier League to have scored in every match this season.

Arteta will hope his side can pick up where they left off after the World Cup, though he concedes it is not the ideal situation for his in-form team.

"It's great to be where we are and we are enjoying that moment. Now we have a big break and we have to reflect on what we're doing and be prepared for after the World Cup," he said in his post-match press conference.

"Our aim is to play better as a team every day, to have better tools to do what we want to do. I can say it's been phenomenal to work with these players and staff.

"When a team is in that moment you want to carry on playing of course, but that's not possible. We have to use that time as best as possible.

"For those not participating in the World Cup they will have some time off which they fully deserve, and the rest can just fulfil a dream that every kid has to have the chance to represent their team in a national cup. It doesn't get better than that."

While many of the Arsenal squad will be competing at the World Cup, Odegaard will not and Arteta outlined the importance of keeping those staying at home fresh and competitive before the return to action on Boxing Day.

"He's got two internationals before that so he’s going to be more committed to the national team. After that, we will try to prepare him in the best possible way, but we don't know," he added.

"Sometimes when you are in a rhythm and competing it's much better. The players who are here are going to need to compete and have enough fitness to play in the right way against West Ham. We'll try to prepare them in the right way."

Odegaard's brace against Wolves took his tally in the Premier League this season to six, just two shy of his career total in England's top flight prior to the start of the season and Arteta praised his improvement in the final third.

"That's what you want - for your attacking midfielders to win games not only by assisting but by scoring goals," he stated.

"He's changed that mentality and he's practising a lot and he wants to get to his best and we don't know where his limit is like many of the other kids that we have.

"That's what we want – embrace the good moments and support them when they're not that good."

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has hailed the performance from his squad in the first half of the season and opened the door for new recruits in the January window.

The Gunners head into Saturday's clash with Wolves, the final game before the World Cup, top of the Premier League and a tally of 34 points at this stage of the season has only once not resulted in title triumph at the end of the campaign (Newcastle United 1996-97).

Arteta's side have already exceeded early expectations this season, with a top-four challenge being the objective, but a lack of depth within the squad could be problematic as the season progresses.

Arsenal have been linked with major moves when the market reopens, with reports suggesting a bid in excess of £50million has been made for Shakhtar Donetsk's Mykhalo Mudryk, while interest in Orlando City's Facundo Torres and Palmeiras' Danilo is also rumoured.

While Arteta did not delve into specifics, he confirmed activity in the market is on the agenda.

"Some of the players and the experience they have is not the biggest, but we have competed in an impressive way up to now with the numbers we have," he said on Friday.

"Of course, we can improve the team, we will always be looking to do that as a club. This window is unpredictable, especially with the World Cup in the middle. We will have a look and will try to make the squad stronger.

"We will be active because you don't know what will happen in the World Cup, touch wood, everyone will be ok."

Arsenal have not been afraid to splash the cash under Arteta and [technical director] Edu, having forked out a reported £80m to sign Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White, and the Gunners boss was asked whether the inclusion of the pair in England's World Cup squad proves they made the right decision.

"We pick the players that we believe have the qualities and personalities to be helpful and successful at our club," he added.

"If they are valuable to the national team as well, in this case England, then it is much better."

The Gunners have a number of players set to compete at the World Cup, including Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka and Takehiro Tomiyasu, with Arteta predicting glory for one of his squad.

"One of my players will win the World Cup, I hope so," said the Spaniard.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said he will pick "a very competitive team" for his side's EFL Cup fixture against Brighton on Wednesday.

The Gunners are enjoying a spectacular start to the Premier League season, with 11 wins, one draw and one loss from their opening 13 games.

Their success has translated to European competition as well, boasting five wins from their six Europa League group stage matches to sit atop Group A.

With a congested schedule and the World Cup right around the corner, Arteta could be forgiven for using the EFL Cup as a chance to rotate his squad and give his big names some rest, but he told the media that winning is the priority.

"It is a different competition, but the purpose is the same," he said. "To play as good as we can, win the game and go into the next round.

"You know there are no second chances and we’ll take it very seriously. We’re going to pick a very competitive team. 

"I think everyone deserves chances, and we’ll make some changes with judgement in relation to the load of the players, but we’ll play to win.

"The ones that haven’t played want to have their chance, and feel that they are contributing to the team. The positive thing is that everybody has played games and everyone has been important. 

"We have two games to go, and the focus has to be there because we know that afterwards we have a big break."

While he claims it will be business as usual against Brighton, Arteta pointed out that heavy rotation of his squad has been their new normal this season, and he sees it as an advantage.

"I think we had a really good pre-season and we put the boys in a really good condition to face this fixture congestion," he said. "They have responded extremely well, especially the way we play which is really intense. 

"I think we are the team in Europe who has rotated the most, and obviously that has its benefits as well. When you are winning, the energy is better and the mood is better, but the preparation is a bit easier, so overall I think they have coped with it really well.

"When they have been used, they have performed really well. For periods in games in the Premier League and when they have started games in the Europa League and the Premier League, I think they have been really consistent. 

"It’s a joy of a group to work with because they’re really at it every day."

Mikel Arteta acknowledges his spell in charge of Arsenal has been "very, very intense" after reaching 150 matches in the Gunners' dugout.

The Spaniard hit the milestone during Sunday's 1-0 win over Chelsea that sent his side back to the Premier League summit following a brilliant start to the season.

Arteta has now matched the number of appearances he made for the Gunners as a player between 2011 and 2016, during which time he won the FA Cup on two occasions.

Speaking ahead of his side's EFL Cup showdown with Brighton, the manager reflected as he approaches nearly three years in the role, having replaced Unai Emery at the helm in December 2019.

"A lot has happened in those two different experiences, but this one has been very, very intense," he said. "The way it started in the middle of the season, and then with two years of Covid, and all the things that we had to go through.

"And now a different phase in the last year or so when football is back to normality, and we start to see more what we want from the team."

Mikel Arteta admits his spell in charge of Arsenal has been "very, very intense" after reaching 150 matches in the Gunners' dugout.

The Spaniard hit the milestone during Sunday's 1-0 win over Chelsea that sent his side back to the Premier League summit following a brilliant start to the season.

Arteta has now matched the number of appearances he made for the Gunners as a player between 2011 and 2016, during which time he won the FA Cup on two occasions.

Speaking ahead of his side's EFL Cup showdown with Brighton, the manager reflected as he approaches nearly three years in the role, having replaced Unai Emery at the helm in December 2019.

"A lot has happened in those two different experiences, but this one has been very, very intense," he said. "The way it started in the middle of the season, and then with two years of Covid, and all the things that we had to go through.

"And now a different phase in the last year or so when football is back to normality, and we start to see more what we want from the team."

Mikel Arteta said Arsenal would "focus on ourselves" ahead of kick-off at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, when asked how his team planned to handle Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Striker Aubameyang spent four years at Emirates Stadium, before his time at the club ended with him being shuffled off to Barcelona in February.

Having propelled Arsenal to FA Cup success in Arteta's first half-season at the helm in 2020, club captain Aubameyang was rewarded with a new contract. Yet the following campaign brought just 14 goals and, by December last year, Aubameyang was out of the picture having fallen out with, and out of the favour of, Arsenal's manager.

After his short-lived, but successful, spell at Barcelona, Aubameyang is back in the Premier League with Chelsea, and the focus ahead of Sunday's London derby was on how he would match up against his old club.

Sixty-four minutes, eight touches, five completed passes and just one shot, which was blocked, later, we had our answer – Aubameyang subbed off by Graham Potter, a minute after Arsenal had taken the lead thanks to Gabriel Magalhaes' goal, with the Gunners holding out to return to the Premier League's summit.

Auba's dismal reunion embodies toothless Chelsea display

Arsenal have found Stamford Bridge a happy hunting ground in recent seasons. They are unbeaten at Chelsea in the top flight since December 2018, and have won on their last three league trips to the home of their London rivals.

They triumphed 4-2 in the corresponding match last term, which was the last time Chelsea had lost on home turf, but the Blues were by far second-best on Sunday.

Chelsea, beaten 4-1 by Potter's former side Brighton and Hove Albion last week, managed just five attempts at goal, their fewest in a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge since September last year, in a loss to Manchester City.

Aubameyang scored 68 goals in 128 Premier League games for Arsenal, including one against the Blues in December 2019, but he never threatened to become just the second player to score for both sides in this fixture in the Premier League (excluding own goals), after Cesc Fabregas.

His performance summed up Chelsea's blunt attack, with Mason Mount managing only one attempt and creating just one chance, while Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling also struggled.

Arsenal, in contrast, had 14 shots, and while only two hit the target, they did what title contenders do and ground out a big result.

Jesus setting the tone

Gabriel Jesus was brought in to fill the void left by Aubameyang, and where Chelsea's 33-year-old centre forward floundered, the Brazil international excelled at the other end.

Jesus might not have scored in the league since the start of October, yet the 25-year-old's influence cannot be ignored.

He had three shots, as many as Chelsea's starting front four combined, and 62 touches. Only defenders Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva (71 and 69) had more on Chelsea's team.

Jesus' 26 duels led the match, with no player competing for more aerials (six). A combative display saw the Arsenal number nine concede a joint-game-high three fouls, but he also won four, more than any other player on the pitch, while only Bukayo Saka (three) created more chances than the ex-Manchester City striker.

Arsenal, the real deal after all?

Chelsea did not lose back-to-back Premier League games at all under Potter's predecessor Thomas Tuchel, but the Blues are now without a win in four top-flight matches.

While Chelsea are undoubtedly struggling to click into gear, take nothing away from Arsenal. This team are purring, and Blues owner Todd Boehly should look to the Gunners' example of sticking with a young coach, with a defined project, as to just what can happen with sustained support.

City's late winner against Fulham on Saturday could have dealt Arsenal's confidence a blow, but instead they made another statement of intent.

"From the start until the end, we deserved to win, we were the much, much better team," Granit Xhaka rightly said in his post-match interview with BT Sport.

"We are so happy, we are doing everything the coach is telling us. These are the results."

Arsenal have won three consecutive Premier League games against fellow 'big six' opposition for the first time since February-April 2012, while the Gunners – on 34 points from their 13 matches – are the first side to win 10 top-flight away games at Chelsea.

They remain the only side to have scored in every top-flight match this term, while no teams have kept more clean sheets than the Gunners (six).

There's one potential complication for Arsenal, of course. The World Cup break is looming, and who knows if this momentum will be here by the time the league resumes in late December.

For now, though, their fans, players and previously much-maligned manager – who marked his 150th game in charge in style – can bask in deserved adulation.

Mikel Arteta saluted his "phenomenal" Arsenal side after they returned to the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 derby win at Chelsea.

Gabriel Magalhaes capitalised on poor Blues defending to score the only goal of the game in the second half, tapping in a Bukayo Saka corner that evaded everyone and gifted the defender a chance he could not miss.

Chelsea did not pose a threat as their 12-match unbeaten home run came to an end, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang starved of service in his first match against his former club before he was hauled off in the second half.

Arsenal comfortably saw out a third consecutive win at Stamford Bridge for the first time since 1974, moving two points clear of Manchester City at the summit.

Gunners head coach Arteta expects another outstanding display to give his players even more belief that they can last the pace in the title race.

He told BT Sport: "We wanted to get back to the top, but the competition is so difficult in this league. The challenge for us was to come to this stage and play against a top team to perform and win the game and the boys did that."

Asked what impressed him the most, the Spaniard replied: "I think for such a young team the maturity they showed, the composure, the resilience and the courage to play the way we wanted to play it was phenomenal. It's easy to say it before the game but to do it against these opponents it's a different story.

"Winning against these opponents in this stadium I think is another step for these players to keep believing that they can do it under pressure against big opponents and we have to enjoy it."

Gabriel Jesus headed wide from close range when he was presented with a glorious opportunity to open the scoring in the first half and is now without a goal in nine games.

But Arteta felt the Brazil striker gave another demonstration of how to lead from the front.

He said: "The energy that he transmits to the team is just phenomenal, that to me is his biggest quality. His all-round play I think it was phenomenal how he competes, how he holds the ball, the movement, the anxiety and uncertainty he gives opponents.

"It is something that has taken us to a different level, we've said that from the beginning. He's done it again and while he didn't score, I thought he was outstanding."

Mohamed Elneny has revealed Mikel Arteta's decision to axe captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last season left the squad "scared".

The Gunners parted ways with the Gabon international in January, offloading the forward to Barcelona after disciplinary issues at Emirates Stadium, but have since seen the striker return to the Premier League with Chelsea.

Arteta's side will come face to face with Aubameyang this weekend as they look to maintain their spot at the summit of the table against the Blues and will have no doubts about the threat he poses.

Aubameyang scored 92 goals during his four-year spell in north London, lifting the FA Cup in 2019-20, and Arteta's decision to move away from the forward at the start of the year was a controversial one.

That choice has been proven to be justified though, with Arsenal flying this season.

Asked whether that was the moment where Arteta imposed his authority upon the squad, Elneny said: "A hundred per cent. Now everyone looked at themselves because Mikel did that to the captain of the team, so what is he going to do with another player?

"This showed that now we can't play around, now we have to be calm with the team. The way the team is going, we have to stick together, not do something different.

"We agree with what Mikel decided because he is our boss, and we just have to agree what his vision is for us. I think it unified us because now everyone was scared. Everyone is scared with their position because this happened to Aubameyang.

"We don't allow big egos. This is the dressing room we have now. Everyone loves each other and everyone works for each other. This is what actually makes our squad really strong, because we don't have egos in the team.

"Of course if anyone is not the captain of the team, and does a small mistake, they are going to have the same problem, and no one needs that problem."

Aubameyang's reunion with Arsenal will grab the attention in Sunday's London derby, and the forward stands as one of many high-earning players offloaded during the Arteta and Edu era at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners have also moved on Mesut Ozil and club-record signing Nicolas Pepe, among others, and Elneny feels Aubameyang is no different despite previously captaining the side.

"Aubameyang was one of our players and now he decided to go to a different team. We must focus on ourselves and look to win the game," Elneny said.

"We know what we are going there to do, because now we are looking for the title. Of course, we are going to push, and we are going to give everything to win the game."

Mikel Arteta says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Arsenal departure was "a decision that we had to take" as the ex-Gunners man prepares to face them with Chelsea.

The Gabon international departed the Emirates Stadium midway through last season by mutual consent, after he was previously stripped of the captaincy.

A move to Barcelona failed to yield a long-term stay, leaving Aubameyang to return to the Premier League with the Blues, where has scored three goals in 11 games to date.

Ahead of a reunion when the two sides meet on Sunday, Arteta did not dwell on the reasons for the forward's exit, but says it was a necessary move for both club and player.

"It's a decision that we had to take and there are different parties involved," he stated.

"At the end of the day, when someone is not with us any more and being a player and having the role that he had at the club and how important he was, you always wish everybody the best. 

"When someone makes that decision to move somewhere else, they need to enjoy their profession, and he seems to be happy."

Having coached him for several years in north London, Arteta is aware of the threat his former player possesses, adding that he knows he is "very dangerous".

"If Auba has something, it’s the ability to put the ball in the back of the net," he said. "He’s going to be doing that until the day that he decides he’s had enough of football.

Mikel Arteta lamented Arsenal making the closing stages "difficult" in the 1-0 win over Zurich that sealed Europa League Group A top spot on Thursday.

The Gunners registered their ninth home win in as many games across all competitions this season, their longest such run at the start of a campaign since 2009-10 (11), after Kieran Tierney's first-half winner.

Arsenal also kept a clean sheet in all three of their home group games in Europe for the first time since the 2008-09 Champions League, owing to a resolute defensive performance at Emirates Stadium.

Arteta suggested his side were at fault in the latter parts of the game, though, bemoaning the hosts for inviting pressure on themselves as Adria Guerrero saw a second-half equaliser disallowed.

"We always try to start faster. We have an opponent that has something to say in the game," the Arsenal manager said. "We made the game difficult in the last 15, 20 minutes."

Arsenal will take the positives from topping their Europa League group for a fifth time in as many attempts, with no side topping a pool more often since the rebranding of the competition in 2009-10.

But a second-half injury to Takehiro Tomiyasu somewhat marred the win, leaving the full-back as a potential doubt for the World Cup with Japan, who start their campaign against Germany in 20 days.

"He felt something," Arteta said of the Japan international's injury, though he refused to give a timescale on his return as he added: "We don't know yet.

"We have Chelsea at the weekend, that's my focus."

Tierney's sumptuous first-half strike was his third in the Europa League (two for Arsenal, one for Celtic), with only Kris Commons (six) netting more among Scottish players in the competition since 2009-10.

The left-back has had to play an understudy role to Tomiyasu for large parts of the season but insisted his performance levels will not drop, whether in the starting XI or not.

"We wanted to get the game done by 60-70 minutes and score a couple of goals, but we never did that," he told BT Sport. 

"I thought we saw the game out. They put a lot of pressure on us but we saw it out well. We had to show fight and hunger because they came here with so much of that.

"We knew they would. Their last couple of results have been good so they have grown in confidence. We dealt quite well, it's just a pity we couldn't score a couple more.

"We won 5-0 a few days ago so it's not like this [struggling for a second goal] happens all the time. Teams win 1-0. As long as we get a clean sheet we are confident we will score.

"I want to play every game I can. I have to keep working hard. The manager knows I will give 100 per cent whether I start or not."

Kieran Tierney's excellent strike was enough to see Arsenal seal top spot in Europa League Group A after a 1-0 home victory over Zurich on Thursday.

Mikel Arteta's side disappointed in their last European outing with a 2-0 loss at PSV but responded with a much-improved performance to ensure they bypassed the competition's knockout-round play-offs.

Tierney scored what proved to be the winner with a thumping first-half effort at Emirates Stadium, where Adria Guerrero saw a second-half equaliser disallowed in an otherwise dominant Arsenal showing.

Arsenal will avoid the likes of Barcelona and Juventus in Monday's draw after topping the group, in which PSV came second, while Bo Henriksen's side were eliminated from Europe after finishing bottom.

Zurich were without a win in five away matches against English sides in Europe but started in encouraging fashion with Lindrit Kamberi blasting a presentable opening off target.

Arsenal struck first after 17 minutes, though, as Tierney latched onto a loose ball to fire a left-footed half-volley from outside the area into the bottom-right corner.

Yanick Brecher denied Eddie Nketiah's header from Fabio Vieira's corner as Arsenal attempted to capitalise on the impetus from Tierney's opener.

Gabriel Jesus inexplicably smashed over after the interval before Guerrero finished past Aaron Ramsdale on the rebound, only to see the offside flag deny him an equaliser and Zurich a share of the points.

What does it mean? European home comforts continue for in-form Arsenal

Premier League leaders Arsenal have made their north London home ground somewhat of a fortress in domestic outings, and the same can be said for their performances in Europe.

The Gunners have lost just one of their last 20 group games at home in major European competition, winning six such matches in a row, as their blistering start to the season continued.

While tougher tasks will follow at Chelsea on Sunday and in the latter stages of the Europa League's knockout rounds, Arteta's side continue to impress both domestically and on the continent.

Vivacious Vieira

Vieira has had to wait patiently for his chance at Arsenal after his move from Porto in the last transfer window, but proved his worth with an excellent performance here.

The 22-year-old, usually a deputy to Martin Odegaard, appeared to be everywhere on the pitch as he created a game-leading four chances in an encouraging attacking display.

Under-par Rohner

Fabian Rohner endured a game to forget up against the astute defensive pairing of Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes.

The Zurich striker managed just eight touches and one successful pass – both lows among starters before his half-time removal – and won just one of his three duels.

What's next?

Arsenal head to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in a crunch Premier League clash, while Zurich visit Lugano in the Swiss Super League on Sunday.

Bukayo Saka has returned to training with Arsenal, easing fears regarding his chances of featuring for England at the World Cup.

Saka was forced off in the 27th minute of Sunday's 5-0 Premier League win over Nottingham Forest following a heavy challenge from Renan Lodi, having assisted Gabriel Martinelli's opener.

The youngster's injury led to fears he might not be fit to feature in Gareth Southgate's squad for Qatar, but on Wednesday, Mikel Arteta confirmed Saka had overcome the problem.

With Arsenal looking to top their Europa League group by beating Zurich, Saka has joined Oleksandr Zinchenko and Mohamed Elneny in making a return to training.

"They are in different stages, obviously. Mo had a long-term injury but has recovered in a really good way and has been training with the team for a week or two," Arteta said in a press conference.

"Oleks' [return] was very recent, and he trained in just two sessions, and Bukayo just missed one or two and was fine today."

Arteta was asked whether Saka wanted to play on after suffering the injury, and stressed the importance of making a rapid decision in such situations. 

"We're using our brains and our common sense, but obviously he had a kick and wasn't comfortable," Arteta added. 

"We made a decision to get him off, and now he's feeling fine. We'll assess each individual as it comes.

"We had to make a decision and we couldn't delay a situation like that, because every minute that a player is not 100 per cent to play, it's costing the team. We have to make those decisions quickly."

Asked whether officials offer enough protection to players like Saka, the Gunners boss added: "I'm sure the referees have looked at all the incidents, all the fouls, the number of fouls our front players are getting, and it's their job to manage that situation in the best possible way."

Mikel Arteta insists he is "extremely happy and proud" to lead Arsenal despite reports linking him with Barcelona as he praised Xavi's "phenomenal" work at Camp Nou.

Arsenal have won 10 of their 12 Premier League games this season to lead Manchester City by two points at the summit, and they will top their Europa League group if they beat Zurich on Thursday. 

The Gunners' excellent form has seen Arteta linked with a move to Barcelona, where Xavi is facing mounting pressure after failing to lead the Blaugrana to the Champions League's last 16.

However, Arteta remains fully focused on his current role, saying: "What I can say is I am extremely proud and happy to be where I am now. I think Barcelona are on a really good path now.

"I think they have a phenomenal coach, a coach who has been an absolute legend at that club and has lifted the whole place, and you have to be very respectful of that."

Despite Arsenal's strong results, some onlookers have expressed worries about the form of Gabriel Jesus, who has not scored since a 3-1 derby win over Tottenham at the start of last month.

However, Jesus claimed two assists in Sunday's 5-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest, as well as playing a key role in the first of Reiss Nelson's two goals, and Arteta sees no cause for concern.

"If he makes three assists in a game, I don't think he has to make many adjustments," Arteta said. "I will be really happy if he is able to do that every game."

Mikel Arteta suggested Bukayo Saka's injury in the 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest was just a knock and unlikely to knock him out of England's World Cup plans.

Saka recorded his 20th assist in the Premier League after finding Gabriel Martinelli for the fifth-minute opener, with only Cesc Fabregas and Wayne Rooney having reached that mark at a younger age than the 21-year-old.

However, Saka was forced off in the 27th minute with what appeared to be a left ankle injury following a tackle from Forest left-back Renan Lodi.

England boss Gareth Southgate may have been concerned Saka would join the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker on his injury list, though Arsenal manager Arteta believes the winger will be fine.

When asked if Saka may be doubtful for England's World Cup opener against Iran on November 21, Arteta said: "Hopefully not.

"It was a bad kick, he was limping, but I don't see it further than that. Both foot and ankle, he got kicked a few times."

Saka's replacement Reiss Nelson struck twice in the space of just over three second-half minutes.

The 22-year-old Nelson was hailed by Arteta for "evolving" and "maturing" after also teeing up Thomas Partey's strike for Arsenal's fourth, and Nelson expressed pride after seizing the opportunity.

"It was amazing. We had a bit of a slow start after the goal, but everyone got into the game and it was great to play in," Nelson said, quoted by the BBC.

"It couldn't have got gone much better than that for me after coming on. I am delighted with the goals and the assist. I have been training for my chance and I got it and tried my best to take it."

Martin Odegaard scored the other goal in the dominant win as Arsenal returned to the Premier League summit, though Nelson admitted the Gunners' first thoughts would be to check how Saka was.

"Of course, it is a huge shame for Arsenal and the nation, and we will go and check now and see how he is," Nelson added. He's a great boy and it's great to have him in the team.

"We are just trying to do well for the gaffer and the team. We're top now and it's nice, hopefully we can go all the way."

Pablo Mari underwent successful back surgery on Friday after Monza's on-loan Arsenal defender survived a stabbing attack near Milan.

The Spanish defender is expected to be out of action for at least two months, Monza said.

One person died in Thursday's attack and a suspect was arrested after being disarmed, with former Napoli footballer Massimo Tarantino named as being among those who stopped the assault.

Monza said in a statement: "The specialists of the general surgery-trauma team of the Niguarda hospital in Milan this morning carried out the surgery to reconstruct the two injured muscles on Pablo Marí's back.

"The surgery went well and a hospital stay of two or three days is expected."

Monza said a rehabilitation stage will begin once Mari is discharged.

"This type of muscle injury usually requires two months of rest before you can resume physical activities," the club statement added.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported Mari recalling the attack, saying: "I was with the pushchair with my child inside and I felt an excruciating pain in my back. Then that man stabbed another in the throat.

"I was lucky, because I saw a person die in front of me."

A host of well-wishers have sent messages of support to Mari, including several of Monza's rival Serie A clubs.


The man who died in the attack was a shop cashier named as Luis Fernando Ruggieri.

Mari was visited in hospital on Thursday evening by Monza chief executive Adriano Galliani and head coach Raffaele Palladino.

Galliani said: "Pablo is an amazing guy. He had the strength to joke, telling me that he will be on the field on Monday.

"I brought him greetings from president [Silvio] Berlusconi and everyone, his team-mates who would have liked to come here even though, obviously, it was not possible."

Galliani said Mari "was probably saved by his height", as the stab injury missed his vital organs.

The former Milan executive added: "From a psychological point of view it seems to me that there are no problems, even if I am not a doctor."

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