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Mikel Arteta insists there is no point comparing the modern Premier League to past seasons as the Arsenal boss claims the quality at the top is “unprecedented”.
The Gunners travel to Newcastle on Saturday evening knowing victory could move them to the summit, with leaders Tottenham not in action until Monday.
Just four points separate the current top five, with former Arsenal head coach Unai Emery’s Aston Villa continuing to keep pace with more established sides such as Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester City.
Newcastle sit sixth, but have not lost in the league since September 2 as the pool of teams competing for the major honours continues to grow.
“What has happened in the last five years is unprecedented,” Arteta said on the eve of taking his side to St James’ Park.
“It never happened with the amount of points and level of the teams. Now it’s the amount of teams with that level that is increasing and increasing.
“That’s why comparing to the past in this league is a waste of time. It’s very different to what it used to be, and that puts the demands of what we do every single day in a different scope.”
Arsenal remain unbeaten in the league, but suffered a 3-1 loss at West Ham in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup in midweek.
Captain Martin Odegaard came off the bench late on to score a consolation goal as he aims to overcoming a nagging hip complaint.
“We have tried to offload him a little bit because he had a little issue that he was grumbling with,” Arteta explained.
“He felt much better in the last few days, and we gave a few minutes against West Ham which was good to see, and his contribution was really good – if he’s fine he will be ready.”
Meanwhile, Arteta hinted defender Ben White could be the next of his key players to sign a new deal at the Emirates Stadium.
White will make his 100th appearance for Arsenal on Saturday having joined from Brighton in 2021 and Arteta is pleased with how the 26-year-old has developed under his tenure.
“We are always trying to keep the squad in a healthy position in any way, and the club and Edu especially are working on that,” he replied when asked about a potential new contract for White.
“I think he’s progressed in the right way in the last few years. He had a little bit of a difficult start, which is normal because it was a big jump with different expectations.
“He started to play as well in certain different positions, but I think he’s shown a lot of determination and courage to overcome that.
“I think he has a big personality, I think he copes with pressure really well, he has a lot of quality, he gives us different positions and he’s been a key player for us.
“He’s a really good character in his own way and the way he is, the way he presents himself, but he loves football. The way he trains every day, the way he applies himself is top and we need players like him.”
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