Mikel Arteta admits he’s relieved that Arsenal’s game with Brentford was given the green light by the authorities given the packed schedule that waits either side of the World Cup.
Having seen matches against Everton and PSV Eindhoven postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, it was looking like the Gunners might go more than three weeks without a fixture before a run of nine games in October.
“What happened was obviously for a really important reason,” reflected Arteta.
“We were always available to play but there are police, there are authorities and other people who have to make the right decision. The decision was made and we have adapted our schedule to be as competitive as possible for Sunday.
He continued: “We needed to play, we wanted to play games, when you look at the schedule after the World Cup especially, or what we have to go through in October, we need to play the games because if not it’s going to be just impossible”
Courtesy of a winning August, the Gunners continue to sit top of the Premier League table and have the opportunity, thanks to the postponement of other matches, to put some breathing space between themselves and rival ‘Big Six’ clubs.
“We have to win our matches, the other games at some stage have to be played, everybody is going to play the same amount,” said Arteta.
“Again, seeing the table and where you are and where you want to continue to be, it’s always important [to win] because I think emotionally and in terms of belief, it’s helpful.”
Sunday’s match will represent a second chance for Arsenal’s players, staff and travelling supporters to pay their respects to the Queen, whose death was announced during half time of Thursday’s win over Zurich and followed by a period of silence ahead of the restart.
The Premier League have confirmed that a minute’s silence will take place prior to kick-off of all games this weekend, the national anthem will be played and supporters will be encouraged to applaud in the 70th minute of each game to represent the late Queen’s 70 years on the throne.
Asked to reflect on the Queen’s passing, Arteta said: “I think it’s phenomenal what the country has done, it shows the level of respect and admiration and the legacy that the Queen has left in the lives of so many. I think it was very emotional and coming from a different country and culture to see that reaction was pretty special. It tells a lot about who she was and what is left behind her.”