Mikel Arteta says he and his coaching staff made the most of the international break and played down suggestions the hiatus in Premier League action could hinder the momentum his players built in March.
14 of Arsenal’s first team squad have been involved with their countries since the 4-1 win over Crystal Palace with many playing important qualifiers for major tournaments.
Arteta, who took the opportunity to celebrate his 41st birthday with his family in his hometown San Sebastian, had to wait until Wednesday for his squad to be reunited at London Colney at which point focus immediately turned to the challenge posed by Leeds United.
The visit of Javi Gracia’s side kick-starts a breathless run of 10 matches inside two months that will decide whether the Gunners end a 19-year wait for a league title.
Reflecting on the last couple of weeks, Arteta said: “We had time to work some days, we had time to analyse and reflect on what we are doing and how we are going to approach the final push of the season.
“And then as well some time to fill your heart with loved ones. Spending some time with them gives you a different type of energy that is very needed. It was really good.”
Despite the pressure situation he finds himself in, Arteta was in a relaxed mood when he faced the media on Friday afternoon and is buoyed by the positive atmosphere around the club at the moment.
On Wednesday night, the manager was in attendance at Emirates Stadium to watch Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal Women secure their place in the Champions League semi-finals with a win over Bayern Munich; a match played out in front of 20,000 spectators.
“It was beautiful, it was great to have the experience to live it there and the crowd that we had in the game, especially the way they played, in the first half it was a real joy to watch,” he said.
Arteta is keenly aware that maintaining a positive and vibrant atmosphere inside and outside the stadium could make a difference over the next two months when the tension builds during matches.
He had the following message for supporters as the season reaches its crescendo: “To live the day. Enjoy the day. To push on the day. To give us all the energy they have on the day.
“The rest will come in the next game and the next day. That is what we are going to do. Give a real push to be at our best.
“With their help and support, we are much better as a team. That is all we are asking for and that is no different to what they have done the whole season.”
He added: “What we do today, our message is to them what we perceive from them every day, it is not only what we eat, it is what we read, what the players read, all those positive messages and all that feeling of support and energy and enthusiasm for the day to come and enjoy what is coming that is the most beautiful thing to do.
“That gives you energy and fills your desire to play in front of them. Once we are on the 96 mins to play for that they really stand out and really behind the team to inspire them.”
Great vibes from the lads. Only concern is TP and Saliba being injured but let’s hope they are back v soon and we keep our fantastic form though the rest of the season.
The other article says TP will be available. That is a massive boon. Fingers crossed it comes to pass. Pretty worrying about Saliba though. Cometh the hour, cometh the man…let’s go Robbie!
I heard the sun slipped out from behind a rain cloud and Kieran is now suffering minor burns to the arms and legs.
Get well soon fella.
That’s just mean.
Once upon a time, Holding and Mertesaker bossed Costa in the FA Cup final. Arteta’s coaching him too, he could be improved from what we remember. Everything from this season tells me to just have faith.