Mikel Arteta says a solid pre-season, lots of rotation and the buzz from winning matches has helped his squad deal with a hectic run of 11 matches since the start of October.
When the fixtures were confirmed earlier in the summer, there were many who questioned if Arsenal’s tight squad would be able to cope with so much football in such a short spell of time.
The answer, so far, is an emphatic yes. Top of the pile in the Premier League and into the last 16 of the Europa League, things couldn’t have gone much better.
While performances wobbled for a couple of weeks, only PSV Eindhoven and Southampton have stopped the Gunners from winning since the last Interlull, injuries have been kept at bay and the players have avoided suspension.
“They are dealing with it really good,” Arteta told Arsenal.com when asked about the condition of his players.
“We had a really good pre-season and we put the boys in a really good condition to be able to face these congested fixtures. They have responded extremely well, especially with the way we play which is really. really intense. They’ve coped well.
“I think we have rotated a lot, we are the team in Europe that has rotated the most. That has its benefits. As well, when you are winning obviously the energy is better, the mood is better, the preparation is a bit easier. Overall they have coped with it really well.”
Arteta also said he was thankful for the attitude of players who’ve not necessarily played as many minutes as they might have hoped.
He didn’t namecheck specific individuals but the list could easily include Matt Turner, Rob Holding, Cedric, Fabio Vieira, Sambi Lokonga and Reiss Nelson, all of whom will be hoping for game time against Brighton in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
“I think it has been really good because when they’ve been used they have performed really well. Whether it’s for periods of games in the league or when they started in Europe or when we’ve needed them to start in the Premier League. Overall, they’ve been really, really consistent.
“We call it ‘competition’ – it’s compete but cooperate. You need to understand on the day what your role is but in training everybody has the same role which is to train at their best and keep improving and make the most out of the sessions. To be fair, it’s a joy of a group to work with because they are really at it every day.
“The ones that haven’t played they obviously want to have their chance and feel they are contributing to the team. The positive thing is everybody has played games and everybody has been important. We have two games to go [Brighton in the Carabao Cup and Wolves in the Premier League] and the focus has to be there because afterwards, we have a big break.”