CHRISTMAS has come early for Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal are going into the World Cup top of the Premier League table.
And now they are FIVE points clear of Manchester City.
Not even Arteta could have dreamed that was possible at the start of the season.
But the Spaniard must keep planning and plotting throughout the break if he wants to finish the campaign with silverware.
And fans should also keep the faith, even if the World Cup throws up some potential issues on the other side of Christmas.
Arsenal have looked like a well-oiled machine from day one, winning 12 of their 14 matches.
They boast the joint-best defence and the second-best attack in the league.
And Man City’s shock defeat to Brentford means Arsenal go into the World Cup with confidence at an all-time high.
It might be too early to think a first Premier League title since 2004 is in the bag.
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But loyal Gooners cannot be begrudged the opportunity to dream big at this stage.
That’s despite the World Cup representing the biggest threat to that ambition.
With star quality throughout the squad, it won’t be a surprise if Arsenal have one or two players making the final stages.
More games mean more tired legs.
And Arsenal are one of the only sides in the league to put out a consistent starting XI each week.
Should they suffer any injury setbacks in Qatar, it could see that well-drilled unit start to unravel.
Arteta must now think very carefully about his moves in the January transfer window.
Now it not the time for panic buying, but one or two thoroughly-scouted signings could be the key to seeing off City’s threat.
Arteta has already shown he is capable of getting the right players through the door.
And now is the time for Arsenal fans to give their fearless leader their total trust.