Mikel Arteta says October’s frantic run of matches is starting to catch up with his squad but says things are only going to get worse after Christmas.
After resting Gabriel Jesus for the match against Bodo/Glimt, the boss has hinted the Brazilian may not be fit enough for Sunday’s clash with Leeds.
It sounds as though Khayon Edwards, who was on the bench on Thursday, will make the trip to Elland Road with the 19-year-old likely to provide back-up to Eddie Nketiah if Jesus is absent.
Adding to our problems, the boss has also called for patience with Oleksandr Zinchenko who continues to struggle with a calf issue.
Pressed on whether the Thursday / Sunday routine is catching up with his players, Arteta said:
“I think it is already here, but I think after the World Cup it is going to be even worse, so I think it is good preparation for what is coming.
“Now, the trick is how are we going to prepare for Leeds, mentally and physically.
“It’s going to be a battle – we know the way they play and how intense it is going to be and the crowd that they have, so it’s going to be a challenge. We have to be at our best again to win there.”
Given the players only arrived back from Norway yesterday afternoon and then set off for Leeds this afternoon, there’s not been much time for pre-game prep.
“We’ll give them some ideas, some video, keep them active to recover well and that’s it.
“There is no time so we have to travel back to London, and then travel to Leeds. We’ll have an activation on Saturday but it’s not really a training session, it’s not possible.”
Leeds may not have won in five games but Arteta is clearly wary of the threat they pose and the feverish atmosphere the home crowd is capable of producing.
“Last year it was incredible – even when we were winning 3-0 that crowd is something that I’ve never seen before, and you can sense that. Every time I watch them and I’ve seen some games already and you can hear the noise, so we know how it’s going to be.”