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Arteta: Dubai is perfect choice for training camp

Mikel Arteta feels that our December training camp and participation in the Dubai Super Cup “ticks all the boxes” when it comes to keeping our men’s first-team squad in the best possible shape during the World Cup.

In a season unlike any other, next month’s trip to the UAE will allow Mikel and our coaching staff to maintain the players’ fitness levels and build match sharpness, as we attempt to replicate our impressive start to the season when domestic action resumes on Boxing Day.

And when he required a mixture of warm-weather training and matches against tough opposition, there was only one location the boss wanted to jet off to - especially with the World Cup taking place nearby. 

Reflecting on why Dubai was selected, he said: “It’s an easy trip as one of the biggest sponsors we have in Emirates is part of it, plus we’ve been there and know the facilities and it’s a really good environment to work. 

“The weather is spectacular and then the World Cup is so close, so for any player that is around there, it is so easy to get them back straight away. I think it ticks all the boxes that we need.

“We need good preparation mentally and physically to be ready for the huge demands that the second part of the season is going to bring to the team. We have two great games against Lyon and Milan and we are really looking forward to it. They’re two big clubs and it’ll be tough competition, and for us, it’s a great test to see where we are.”

With 10 of our players heading to Qatar to try and claim world football’s ultimate prize, Mikel admits there will be a bit of a balancing act trying to manage everyone’s schedules and recovery time, but he feels that we’re well-equipped for that.

“We’ve got a pre-season; not a full pre-season but a really good three weeks of preparation,” he said. “We’re going to have to get the team ready in different phases because we’re going to have certain players at the start, some players in the middle and certain players at the end of it, in relation to what happens at the World Cup. 

“It’s not really different to any summer when there is a European competition or a World Cup. You start pre-season and in the first three weeks there are six, seven sometimes 10 players that are not participating because they have played competitions with their national teams, and here is going to be the same. The thing is after the World Cup to the first competitive match, that turnaround is really, really short.

“Every player and every schedule is different. We’ll have to assess who it is, how many games he’s played, how many days off they’ve had in the last few months and treat it like this, but certainly, there is a plan in place for every player.”

Arteta is also looking forward to seeing our supporters at the games against Lyon and Milan, who might not get the opportunity to watch us live often thanks to geographical reasons.

On getting to perform in front of some Gooners in the Middle East, he added. “It’s great. There are going to be a lot of supporters in Dubai because a lot of people are staying there during the World Cup, so it is a good opportunity for us to play in front of the crowds.”

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