Saturday, February 24, 2024

Arteta: Hungry Arsenal ready for busy festive period

Arsenal’s performances may not have set pulses racing as much as last year’s but the midweek Champions League hammering of Lens proved Mikel Arteta’s attackers can still turn on the style in the right circumstances.

While the French side proved tactically naive, most of the Gunners’ domestic opponents have become wary of their qualities and deliberately set up in a low block to foil expansive football. Saturday’s trip to Brentford was the latest example and the boss expects more of the same when Wolves visit the Emirates on Saturday.

So what can he do to better prepare his players for such challenges?

“Giving players tools, ideas and understanding about what we have to do with the game we have to play,” was Arteta’s response in his pre-game press conference.

“It’s about the efficiency in the last part of the park that dictates the outcome of the game. The other night [against Lens], we were very efficient in that.”

Wolves come into the match in slightly erratic form having taken points from Manchester City, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Sp*rs since September only to lose to Fulham and Sheffield United in the last few weeks.

All the same, the boss expects a tough encounter: “They have a lot of quality. It’s not a coincidence, what they are doing. They perform really well, especially against the top sides.

“That speaks highly about the quality of the coaching staff – what Gary [O’Neill] is doing, the way they prepare and control opponents, especially when they play at home. We’re going to have to try to break them down tomorrow.”

The boss also tempered the expectations of Arsenal fans hoping for more free-flowing football after such an eye-catching win in midweek.

“It will be different, it won’t be the same, and we cannot expect the same,” he said.

“This team is going to be different to last season and hopefully very different to next season, and that’s part of the evolution by leaving some things in the past to [make way for] the new things, it’s a transition.

“We want to still be competitive and win matches and I think the team is competing really well.”

Following Granit Xhaka’s departure, injuries to Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard and the introduction of two summer signings – Declan Rice and Kai Havertz – it’s understandable that the midfield, in particular, is still getting to grips with its new look.

“I think time will help and the more minutes that they [Havertz, Rice & Odegaard] play together the chemistry will get better and better as well, but we have many options with different qualities.

“We played as well with two players, not as offensive [Jorginho and Rice] as the three that we are talking about right now, and it depends as well on the opponent, game state and what we are trying to do.”

Despite fitness issues with three midfielders, Arteta says his players are looking forward to a busy festive schedule that includes eight matches between now and the end of the year.

“That’s the beauty of it. We wanted to be in that position. We are playing in big games every three days and the squad is ready,” he reflected.

“The players are hungry to play every single game. They are disappointed when we have to rest them to manage minutes. That’s a really good sign.”

A win would temporarily give the Gunners a four-point lead at the top of the table before Liverpool and Manchester City play on Sunday.

“We can control what we can do,” said Arteta. “I’ve learnt that ‘ifs’ in this league are not a very positive thing to have in mind. We are very hungry to play in front of our crowd tomorrow and win the game. That’s what we are going to try to do.”

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BillyKrystal

Well let’s start by being hungry like the wolf, or rather, hungrier than the wolf.

Gunner1971

We’re the gunners, why can’t we just shoot the wolf?

GoonerJust

Anything but cry wolf

Doghouse

I expect a difficult game, they are very good on the break playing the so called top teams, an early goal for us would be best but like their spuds game if we don’t add they we believe they are still in it, our defence and keeper will be the key to 3 points tomorrow as we will score goals..

Onenil

Turkey and all the trimmings or a nut roast? As long as we roast the spuds.

RamsdaleMyHero

As fans, We should grow beyond this Sp*da mentality whose only ambition in their life is to win derby games!

Matthinc

God are Liverpool playing Man City again??

Vonnie

The no excuses and “bring it on” mentality that Mikel has instilled in this team is brilliant, one game at a time, lets start by destroying the Wolf pack.

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