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Mikel Arteta says that Arsenal must continue to fight for the championship

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Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal have kept the title race alive after returning to the Premier League summit with a 3-1 win against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium and urged his players to take their battle with Manchester City to the wire over the next month.

Arsenal swatted their hapless London rivals aside in the first half with two goals from Martin Ødegaard and another from Gabriel Jesus, with Noni Madueke’s late goal for the visitors an irrelevance. It was a resounding answer to their critics after four games without a victory, including a crushing defeat at City, and Arteta felt the match had effectively been a matter of win or bust.

“A lot,” he said when asked how much Arsenal had needed the points. “If we were going to have any chance to win this league we had to win. We want to be back on top and we did it.”

Their stint in first place will be brief if City, two points behind, beat West Ham at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday in one of their two games in hand. But Arteta will not tolerate any regrets and insisted his side will keep pushing in their final four fixtures, beginning with a fiendish assignment at Newcastle on Sunday.

“It’s not in our hands, we know that,” he said. “Regardless, what this team has done is remarkable. We are really happy that we have [qualified for the] Champions League but we have to be dissatisfied. We cannot accept that this is good enough for our club, we have to push it further and see where we get.”

Gabriel Magalhães could be a doubt for the trip to St James’ Park after departing in the second half with an injury. The defender tried to carry on several times after sustaining a knock but eventually succumbed. “A big concern about that because normally he’s not one that wants to leave the pitch,” Arteta said.

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Chelsea have lost all six of their games under the interim manager Frank Lampard and delivered a shoddy opening period he described as “not good enough in every way”, improving after the interval. “It’s a lot of things,” he said of the reasons for such a poor start. “It’s mental, a desire to get up to people, but it also starts with the capacity to do it and conditioning [yourself].”

Nonetheless, he refused to cast doubt on his players’ characters. “I want to be quite clear,” he said. “I know the casual answer to the first half is the players didn’t have pride or care enough, [but] they certainly do. I’m not questioning the players as lads but from being good lads to transferring it on the pitch, aggression in training, it has to be something you do.”

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