The Gunners headed into the standout fixture this past weekend top of the pile after 15 rounds, six points clear of fourth-placed Manchester City. They had a chance to consolidate their lead and go nine points clear of title-hopefuls City but unfortunately lost and are now only 2 points ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool.
The Man City contest was scheduled for lunchtime this past Saturday, which drew the wrath of Gunners’ defensive enforcer Arteta. Speaking before the game, the former Everton midfielder said that he couldn’t comprehend why Arsenal had to play on Saturday after their Champions League exertions on Wednesday night. In fact, their week also started on Sunday against Everton, and that means they would be playing their third match in six days.
The Gunners travelled to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday for a 12.45pm kick-off, giving them a little more than 48 hours to prepare for the crucial match. Whereas Man City played on Tuesday night (and that too with an under-strength side), Arsenal played on Wednesday giving the Citizens an extra day to recover.
According to ESPN, Arteta believed that the recovery time was not sufficient and that his team was at a disadvantage. He said, “The recovery time is very tight. I don’t understand why we play Sunday afternoon [a 1-1 draw at home to Everton], Wednesday evening, get back at 4am and then play again on Saturday morning in Manchester. There is nothing we can do, just recover well. It’s a big game and we want to win it. The preparation will just be about recovery. It’s not ideal.”
He added, “I think we have different options [in the squad]. You could see that we changed the team a bit again against Napoli. We have to be ready — no excuses. We know it can be a big statement if we get a good result against City. That’s what we want.”
Of course, Arteta’s sentiments and comments are resonating very loudly now given the result on Saturday but Arsenal can show their character with their repsonse to the result and hopefully they can react positively in the match vs Chelsea.