Mikel Arteta says he’s very pleased to have the opportunity to spend time with his players and backroom staff as he looks to build on his promising start as head coach at Arsenal.
The Spaniard was keen to give the first team squad a chance to relax with their families during the Premier League’s inaugural winter break but was also keen to have everyone under one roof so that important meetings could take place on a one-to-one and collective basis outside of training.
Many of the players, including new signings and those sidelined by injury, travelled to Dubai early last week to soak up the hot weather before the first sessions took place on Friday.
The Gunners will return to England on Tuesday before taking on Newcastle on Sunday 16 February.
“We are really excited,” Arteta told Arsenal.com. “The weather conditions and the facilities we have here for train are phenomenal, the boys are in good spirits and we had a really good training session.
“Just the fact of having everyone together, not just the players but the staff and the backroom staff to spend some time together and work on some things that we have to improve because we haven’t really had time to work with the 20 or 22 players since I have been here.
He added: “They needed three or four days off to relax their minds as well, recover the bodies.
“They have been through a lot in the last few months and now I think they are ready to have five or six really good training sessions here before we go back to London and focus and prepare as well as we can for the game against Newcastle.”
Some clubs have decided to stay in England during the short hiatus but that was never on the agenda for Arteta who started examining his foreign options not long after taking over.
Explaining why he feels being away from London Colney is beneficial, he continued: “Hours together, to spend together, grab a coffee together, to have conversations, to have unit meetings, individual meetings, group meetings about the things we have to achieve.
“To review what we have done. I have made a big review of what we have done so far in these five or six weeks, the things where we can improve, the areas where we have improved and that we have to maintain, that we cannot lose. Hopefully we can make another step forward as a team now.”