Mikel Arteta wants his Arsenal players to enjoy their way back to the top of the table

Mikel Arteta saw his Arsenal side return to the top of the Premier League table with victory over Chelsea before insisting he wouldn’t let his players knock their heads.

The Gunners were eight points clear last month but fell behind Manchester City after a four-game winless run, a run which ended with a comfortable 3-1 victory over the beleaguered Blues.

Captain Martin Odegaard scored twice before Gabriel Jesus wrapped up victory before the break, when Noni Madueke’s first league goal proved mere consolation for Frank Lampard’s visitors.

Despite their recent run, Arteta had refused to rule Arsenal out of the title race and this win put them two points clear, even though he played two games more than City.

The Spaniard admitted he did not want morale to drop after a poor defeat to City last week saw their lead all but dashed.

“Four games to go, we’re at the top right now,” he said.

“We can’t do this (dropping head), to be where we are after 10 months against the team we’re fighting against, to be there and have a chance to be on top – we have to enjoy it and embrace it, maximize the opportunity we have because we don’t we know what will happen.

“We wanted to have a very different approach to the game and we have done that from the beginning.

“The team is back to its best. We wanted to show that we have that fire in our belly. I’ve seen him in the last few days and we’ve prepared well for the match.

Arsenal v Chelsea – Premier League – Emirates Stadium

Martin Odegaard’s two goals made the difference (Adam Davy/PA)

“Mentally we arrived in the right mood and with the right energy level. Everything went well for us too, which is important.

“We’ve had a tough couple of weeks with very different matches, with a lot of emotions at stake. We are back at the top of the table, let’s see what happens.”

While it was a night to remember for skipper Odegaard, it was a night his predecessor will want to forget in a hurry. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started for Chelsea for the first time since he faced the Gunners on 6 November but lasted just 45 minutes before being substituted, having suffered nine touches, four of them from a kick-off.

Arsenal v Chelsea – Premier League – Emirates Stadium

Frank Lampard and his team had another frustrating evening (Adam Davy/PA)

Arteta praised Odegaard and the example set by the Norwegian international.

“He’s got 14 goals this season, his contribution to the team, his leadership skills, I’m really happy with him,” he added.

“He has been outstanding to us, his input every single day. I think he’s done that (set the tone) on many occasions. What Martin has done this season deserves a lot of credit.

Chelsea have now lost all six of their games under interim manager Frank Lampard, who feels his players are “too nice” as they remain in the bottom half of the table.

“We weren’t good enough,” he admitted.

“We were too nice to play against, too passive. In possession we weren’t playing balls over their press or winning second balls.

“Chelsea have been very successful for 20 years at home and in the Champions League, we are not in that position at the moment.

“But from the moment I was here it was clear that we are too nice as a team.

“We can’t change things overnight, but we’d better get there fast because we have another game at the weekend and games to come.”

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