Manager Arsene Wenger has urged in-form Arsenal to stay vigilant against complacency, with the Frenchman saying his years spent in England have taught him not to take the “jungle” that is the Premier League for granted.
The Gunners have won seven consecutive games in all competitions to climb up to second in the Premier League, level on points with leaders Manchester City, and top of their Champions League group ahead of Paris St Germain.
“Nothing has gone in our game. I believe humility is to understand you start again from zero and we are in a jungle,” Wenger told reporters on Friday.
However, this season has not all been plain sailing for Arsenal and the Emirates Stadium was a sombre place after an opening day loss to Liverpool in August, with Wenger admitting that sort of negativity had always kept him on his toes.
“We live in a jungle where everybody wants to eat you and you have to survive by keeping your vigilance. That’s what competition is about. Every day you have to fight again to survive,” he added.
Mesut Ozil, known for his on-field creativity, has scored six goals in 10 appearances this season and Wenger lauded the midfielder for adding goals to his game and reiterated his desire to keep hold of the influential German.
“Mesut experienced his game as a provider and I think he is slowly getting a taste for thinking ‘maybe I can finish as well’,” the 66-year-old said.
“That’s what you want him to do to add that to his game. There’s no reason why he should not finish and score.
“Mesut Ozil is 28 years old. He is in the prime of his career and we want him to contribute to the success of the club in the future.”
Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi have formed a strong partnership at the heart of Arsenal’s defence but Wenger expects the pair to be tested when 17th-placed Middlesbrough visit on Saturday.
“They (Middlesbrough) look like they can score goals and we will need a good defensive performance,” he said.
“Until now, Mustafi and Koscielny have worked well, maybe quicker than expected. We have some good tests coming up though and we have to show over a longer period it can work.”
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)