Mikel Arteta says Arsenal must remain realistic as they bid to move 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
The Gunners failed to qualify for the Champions League last season but have emerged as unlikely title contenders this term on the back of 14 wins from 16 games.
Arteta’s pacesetters host third-placed Newcastle on Tuesday evening with an opportunity to increase their healthy seven-point cushion on second-placed Manchester City, who travel to Chelsea on Thursday.
While the Spaniard has no desire to prevent Arsenal fans getting carried away as they dream of becoming champions for the first time since 2004, he is not looking too far into the future.
“It’s not about stopping anybody; it’s about being realistic where we are,” he replied when asked if it was difficult to prevent supporters getting ahead of themselves.
“The way we are performing, obviously it’s impressive and we are really happy with that.
“But, as well, we set the objectives in the short term and what we want to improve and what is making us win that many football matches.”
Asked about his aspirations for 2023, he replied: “To win against Newcastle. And then the next one and then the next one. That is the dream.”
Arsenal claimed a thrilling 4-2 victory at Brighton on New Year’s Eve to tighten their grip on top spot after City and Newcastle were each held to home draws.
Eddie Howe’s Magpies were in serious relegation danger this time last year but are now challenging at the other end of the table on the back of a superb 10-match unbeaten run, which has brought eight wins.
“They’re a very good team, really well coached,” Arteta said of Newcastle.
“I think what Eddie has done in that short period of time, when you look at the numbers, incredible big credit to him and the coaching staff.
“And then they have created a belief, a momentum around the team that they play the same way against any opponent.
“It’s going to be another big test. But we play at home in front of our crowd and I’m looking forward to it.”