Mikel Arteta says managing Arsenal during the Covid-19 pandemic has taught him the importance of making quick decisions and that planning is sometimes a waste of time.
Speaking on the eve of the season, and possibly already in the knowledge that senior strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette wouldn’t be involved in the trip to Brentford, the manager was sanguine about the challenges he and his staff face on a daily basis.
“The lesson now is that planning a lot of things in this world is sometimes wasting your time because a lot of things have happened that nobody could ever expect and that you have to be ready to act,” he told Arsenal.com.
“You have to make decisions quickly, and you have to be ready to adapt, and I think that we have a really strong team. Not only with the players but as well with the staff that we have created with many different backgrounds and qualities and we are ready to go for anything that comes up.”
After five weeks of pre-season training, it’s hard luck that the coach’s only fit strikers heading into the season opener are 19-year-old Flo Balogun, who is yet to make a Premier League start, and Gabriel Martinelli, who only arrived back from the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.
All the same, he’s pleased with the way his summer on the training ground has gone.
“We started five weeks ago on our preparation, we worked so hard with them to try to get them every tool, every necessary tool, to compete in the best possible way and now it’s time to compete.
“Probably without them knowing, they have this thin rain on them and without them knowing they are fully prepared. Now it is about competing, doing what you have to do, win duels, be on the front foot and we go [to Brentford] and have one thing in our minds, to do the best we can and win that football match.”
Interestingly, Arteta confirmed that Covid-19 had been contracted by some squad members during the summer. Arsenal were due to fly to the US for a couple of friendly matches in July but the trip was cancelled at late notice when positive cases were found in the camp. At the time, the club were vague about whether those forced to isolate were part of the playing squad or not.
“The rules are constantly changing so we know that we have to adapt so we have had moments where our training ground was almost shut and other times where the training ground was completely open,” said Arteta. “We lost a player, we lost three players, we lost so many members of the staff.
“We know that in this environment, we’re going to have to be adaptable. After being adaptable, we can analyse and we make all the different decisions, and that’s I think where we can be stronger this season because we’ve had time to speak about those things and experience them.”