Having seen us drawn against PSV Eindhoven, Bodo/Glimt and FC Zurich in the Europa League group stage, Mikel Arteta is already excited about the return of European football.
Having missed out on continental trips last term, the boss is glad to see them included in fixture list again, and like our supporters is already eyeing up the trips to the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland following the group stage draw on Friday.
When asked if he was looking forward to Europa League action, he said: “I am – we missed it last year so much: those nights at the Emirates, the atmosphere, playing against European teams. The preparation is very different, and it’s great.
“We have to go for every competition that we are present in, and try to win it. We’ll go step by step and start to prepare for the competition in the best possible way. There are some good examples around of teams who have won the competition in the last few years.”
The competition kicks off next month, which will see all six group games crammed into an eight-week period, and with the Premier League also trying to fit in fixtures before the World Cup break in November, Arteta knows that squad rotation will be vital.
However, he is happy that the extra games will allow him to spread minutes and opportunities around his players, as we juggle both competitions simultaneously for the next couple of months.
“We have to maintain the level of performance we are at right now and the demand will be to do it every three days, which is what you are hoping for when you are at this club,” he added.
“Rotation depends on the level of the opposition, the state of our squad and where everybody is. Let's take it game by game, see how the fitness of the team is and we'll make the best possible decisions.
“Does rotation mean we rotate two players, three or 10? You have to weigh up the amount of minutes they have spent together [on the pitch] and find a strategy to get the best out of the team and get the right balance without dropping the level of performance. You need to win today and play a team who is going to get you there.”
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