Mikel Arteta says Arsenal must strengthen their squad during the January transfer window, as the Gunners bid to stay ahead of Manchester City in the title race.

Arsenal are five points clear at the top of the Premier League, but Arteta has warned of “red lights and alarms” over an “unprecedented” schedule in the second half of the season.

Arteta is prioritizing a new winger, and Arsenal is in talks with Shakhtar Donetsk over a deal for Ukraine international Mykhaylo Mudryk.

The Gunners also want to sign a left-sided centre-back and midfielder in the summer, but they could be tempted to accelerate those plans as they target their first title since 2003-04.

Arsenal hold a long-term interest in Eintracht Frankfurt defender Evan Ndicka and Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans, who are both out of contract at the end of the season. They also watched Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister during the World Cup.

Arteta must cope with the loss of key striker Gabriel Jesus, after he suffered a knee injury with Brazil at the World Cup that could keep him out for three months.

Nine players in their squad have already played more than 1,000 minutes in the Premier League this season, more than any other team.

Arteta knows that reliance on those players is not sustainable when the Gunners resume their season at home to West Ham on Boxing Day.

“That is something we are obviously very aware of,” said Arteta.

“Obviously the type of the game we have to play in Europe has allowed us to make a lot of changes and have a fresher squad for the weekend, and then we have repeated the starting XI a lot.

“In the second half of the season, I don’t think that is going to be the same type of numbers. We are going to be playing every three days. The congestion and the amount of games we have to play is going to be incredible. We are going to have to have more resources and more players to be able to do that.”

Arteta admits it is impossible to know how players will react to the congested schedule in the second half of the campaign.

“I think in the long run you are going to be where you deserve to be — and we have the confidence we are on the right path,” he told Sky Sports.

“But as well we have the red lights and alarms, because what is coming in the second half of the season is something unprecedented — and we need to be ready for it.”

Arteta endured some difficult times during the early part of his time in charge at Emirates Stadium and last season Arsenal made their worst start to a campaign since 1954.

The Spaniard has done an impressive job to steady the ship since then and believes Arsenal are now ahead of schedule in a five-phase plan he presented to the club when he was appointed in 2019.

“The good thing is that I had a really clear plan,” said Arteta.

“I put a plan of five different phases for the club — where we are comparing to the rest of the teams, timeline and everything that we have to hit in every phase. We are ahead.

“It is not just a feeling, because there are as well stats and facts that are supporting that the team is deserving to win games.”

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