Mikel Arteta has urged his Arsenal stars to forget about the World Cup and focus on consolidating their place at the top of the Premier League.
Arteta has 10 players jetting off to Qatar for the World Cup after the Premier League leaders’ match at Wolves on Saturday.
The Gunners boss knows concerns about missing the World Cup through injury could distract his team against Wolves.
But, with the tournament starting on November 20, Arteta is determined to ensure his players keep their sights on Arsenal’s unexpected title challenge.
If Arsenal match second placed Manchester City’s result at home to Brentford, they will sit top of the table at Christmas.
“We discussed the topic before and I always say to them if you’re thinking about an injury then probably it’s going to happen,” Arteta told reporters on Friday.
“I don’t know if it will happen today, the next day or the first day of preparation for the World Cup.
“So get it out of your mind, you are professional athletes, this risk is always there for you so commit yourself to your job and every action and the risk will be less. That’s it.”
Arteta admits it would be encouraging for Arsenal to maintain their two-point lead over champions City with the World Cup such a distraction after the competing countries named their squads this week.
But the Spaniard is also starting to focus on planning for the top-flight to resume on December 26, just eight days after the World Cup final.
“It will be great but our focus is to play better every day,” he said.
“Try to play better tomorrow than we did against Chelsea. If we do that tomorrow our chances of winning will be greater and that’s where the focus is.
“The way we’re going to communicate with our players is going to be very important.
“Understanding how they’re feeling, what we’re doing and trying to support them and help the boys if they want anything and be there.
“We have to assess when they come back, assess that and be smart with those decisions.”