Mikel Arteta says Arsenal’s winter break in Dubai was akin to a pre-season getaway and included an audit the team’s progress in the last six weeks.
Most of the first team squad took the opportunity to spend a few days relaxing on the beach before the boss and his coaching staff talked them through new ideas and how they might be implemented in the coming weeks.
All in all, the chance to spend time under one roof without the hassle of actual matches, proved very fruitful.
Facing the media ahead of Sunday’s game with Newcastle, Arteta said: “It was like a mini pre-season for us in Dubai. We had time to work on a lot of our principles, how we want to set up against different formations, relevant things we need to work on both on and off the ball.
“Apart from that it was great to be a little bit together, spend some time together and get to know the players, not just them but also the coaching staff and backroom staff. It was a very productive trip.
Asked about team morale, he added: “We are taking it day by day. to be fair the input, work ethic, commitment in training and games has been really good.
“They know how crucial the next three to four weeks is for our aims until the end of the season. They are very aware of that and have a very good mindset towards that. I think they are highly motivated.”
Reflecting in more depth about the work the team undertook in the Middle East, Arteta said: “I wanted to give them a few days rest as they’ve been through a lot of things in the last few months.
“After that we reflected on what we’ve done together in the last five, six weeks since I joined; the things we improved – and they are very positive and we have to maintain – and the things we have to improve and develop.
“That worked really well, we agreed and set some targets and we started to work on them. Hopefully, we can see the outcome in the next few weeks.”