LONDON, July 14 — Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has bemoaned the fixture scheduling since the Premier League restart, saying today his players have amassed “crazy minutes” on the pitch in recent weeks.
The Gunners host newly crowned Premier League champions Liverpool tomorrow, three days after falling to defeat to Tottenham in the north London derby.
In the five games that followed their opening game of Project Restart — a 3-0 defeat at Manchester City — Arsenal’s opponents had longer to prepare, with Arteta keen to stress that point.
“We have only had an advantage in one — which was against Spurs,” he told his pre-match press conference.
“But look at the boys, they keep going, they go full-gas, it doesn’t matter and we will do it again.”
An FA Cup semi-final against City is next up for Arsenal after the Liverpool clash, with Arteta keen to be able to field his strongest side in both games, despite the demands placed on his players.
“Obviously they’ve been hit and a lot of them have played some crazy minutes up until now and again we’re going to have games every two-and-a-half days.
“We will try to put the strongest team out as possible here and as well on Saturday, and to do that we need to know how everyone recovers from the game.”
Defeat against Spurs increased the chances of Arsenal failing to qualify for Europe for the first time since the 1994/95 season.
The Gunners are ninth in the table and need to make up a four-point gap on Sheffield United in seventh or win the FA Cup to qualify for the Europa League.
Arteta admitted achieving even Europa League football would make a big difference to his budget when it comes to recruiting players in the close season.
“European football gives you more financial resources, that is clear, and we are going to keep trying until the end of the season to try and achieve that,” he said.
“After that, we will assess where we are and what our capabilities are to recruit, to maintain the players that we have and maintain the structure that we have in place at the moment at the club, and move forward from there.” — AFP