Mikel Arteta has unveiled that he took part in several of Arsenal’s training games this week ahead of their Premier League clash against Everton.
The north London outfit are set to re-start their league campaign at Goodison Park earlier today, after having claimed three wins from four this season with the side currently sitting fifth in the table five points behind Manchester City at the top.
While the 41-year-old delivered some positive news over the fitness of Bukayo Saka last week, the squad have suffered several injury blows already this season, with Mohamed Elneny, Jurrien Timber and Thomas Partey all currently sidelined.
With several key players absent, Arteta admitted to Sky Sports that his squad had a few less numbers this week and confirmed that he had to step in to take part in training matches this week as cover.
When asked about playing the Gunners boss said: ‘Well it was forced! It was nothing that I wanted to do, but yeah, we had one or two players and some academy players that could not join.’
Mikel Arteta has unveiled that he took part in several of Arsenal’s training games this week ahead of their Premier League clash against Everton
The Spaniard returned 16 goals across 150 appearances in all competitions while playing for Arsenal and retired back in 2016 to pursue a career in management
The Spaniard, who returned 16 goals across 150 appearances in all competitions while playing for Arsenal, hung up his boots back in 2016 to pursue a career in management.
But it seems the former Spain international enjoyed his return to the playing field, said: ‘It was good – it was a good work out. I lost some weight and I didn’t get injured.’
He was also asked whether he injured any one, with Arteta immediately replying ‘No!’ before admitting that he wasn’t taking any prisoners with his team, claiming he did do a few slide tackles.
‘I did a few yes but I didn’t get anybody injured,’ he added.
It comes after the manager had this summer vowed to build a winning side after last season’s title slump, but had also, according to Sky, criticised his squad size as ‘unsustainable’ despite saying he was happy with his playing cohort.
Arsenal will play their fifth game of the new Premier League season today, having claimed 10 points from their opening four matches, claiming wins against Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace and Manchester United.
They dropped two points against a ten-man Fulham side at the end of August after being held to draw by the Cottagers, who rescued an equaliser through Joao Palhinha in the 87th minute.
While the club are hoping to do one better than their endeavours last season, narrowly falling short of winning the league title to Manchester City, Arteta gave an honest assessment of his team’s campaign so far by rating their performances out of ten, stating there was still room for improvement.
‘I would say if we had 12 points then I’d give them a 10,’ he said. ‘But there is always a number of things that we have to improve on and have to do better.
‘Listen we started [by] winning the trophy against Manchester City in the [FA Community Shield] final, we should have won the the four games, that’s for sure. We should have won it [their 2-2 draw against Fulham].
‘But the margins, they’ve been too small. And probably that’s the thing that we have to do better to kill games earlier. We have the dominance that we have shown already and be more ruthless.’
The Gunners will return to Champions League action this week for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign, hosting PSV Eindhoven at the Emirates stadium on Wednesday.
The Gunners have been light on numbers this week with several key stars having sustained injuries at the start of the season
The Gunners have claimed 10 points from a possible 12, winning three of their opening Premier League matches while drawing one to Fulham
The Gunners boss ranked his side’s start to the season out of 10, but said that there were things they needed to improve on
But amid the excitement and anticipation of returning to the coveted European competition, Arteta stated that he was not looking much further past today’s fixture against his former club Everton.
‘We’re Really excited about it,’ he said on their opening Champions League group game during a press conference on Friday.
‘First Everton and that’s the only one we have in mind. Our record speaks for itself, six years we haven’t won there [at Goodison Park] so we’re going to have to earn it and we’ll need to be at our best to beat them there and it’s something that we haven’t managed to do so that’s where we need to start.’
Arteta also revealed his soft spot for the Toffees, saying: ‘It’s a big emotional attachment to that football club. The way they treat me and the years i have spent there and the incredible memories i have there.
‘Always grateful it was a big big part of my playing career and as a coach i have to play against them and obviously I want to beat them.’