Victory at Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday, and not talk of potential injuries, takes priority before World Cup break

“We have Chelsea on Sunday, this is what I’m interested in.” Mikel Arteta’s response to the question of Takehiro Tomiyasu’s chances of being fit for the World Cup was jarring. Though Arteta had already expressed sympathy for the Japan defender’s predicament, he was reinforcing the importance to Arsenal of an away fixture signposted for some time.

Since Old Trafford on 4 September in fact. Arsenal’s sole loss of their league season, a 3-1 defeat in which they were picked off by Manchester United’s counterattacking, was a wobble, but a fine run since, including home victories over Tottenham and Liverpool, has lessened the residual pain. However, in a season where Manchester City are just two points behind despite the 1-1 draw at Southampton on 23 October being the only other blemish, Arsenal’s margin for error does not include losing at their London rivals.

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