Despite seeing us fall to a 2-0 defeat to Juventus in our final warm-up game before the return of the Premier League, Mikel Arteta feels we are well-placed for the resumption of domestic football.
Stoppage-time strikes at the end of both halves via a Granit Xhaka own goal and Samuel Iling-Junior saw the Italians claim a smash-and-grab victory, after we enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and chances on goal.
But while the boss admits the lack of cutting edge this evening was disappointing, he has been enthused by our displays on the training pitch and in our three friendly outings, and because of that, we’ll be ready for the visit of West Ham United on Boxing Day.
Reflecting on tonight, he told Arsenal.com: “The scoreline probably doesn’t reflect at all what happened in the game, but this is football. They had one shot and scored two goals.
“We did a lot of really good things, especially from box to box but we weren’t ruthless enough in either. I think we had 19 shots and only two on target, so it’s clear what we have to improve, but we did a lot of positive things in the match to get a much better outcome.
“I think the way the boys are training and playing, it’s really positive. Today is a setback but perhaps it’s better to happen today rather than in any competitive match, but we’ll work on it, talk about it and improve.”
After giving plenty of minutes to a number of our under-21 side in the Dubai Super Cup victories against Lyon and AC Milan, Mikel handed further gametime to Amario Cozier-Duberry and Ethan Nwaneri against Juve, and both shone following their appearances from the bench.
Arteta has been happy with what he’s seen from those who have stepped up, adding: “They are adapting to it. Today we had some good examples of some players that played some more minutes, so it’s good.
“We need to keep exposing them when there are good opportunities to see where they are right now, and it gives us a lot of information.”
With nine days to go until the season resumes, the manager is looking forward to further work on the training ground next week to fine-tune his side, and welcome back the remainder of the World Cup contingent.
He admits that the injury picked up to Reiss Nelson is a blow, but feels the remainder of the squad are in the right condition to be thrown back into the cut and thrust of Premier League action.
“Physically everybody is ready,” he revealed. “We had a little issue today with Reiss which is a shame because he was in really good shape, but now the last few players are coming back to us in the next few days. They’ll jump in and train and we’ll get them ready to go.”
The final player to come back will be William Saliba, who could play in a World Cup final tomorrow when France take on Argentina in Qatar, and Arteta hopes he’ll get the chance to feature in the global showpiece, as well as bring a winner’s medal back to north London.
When asked if he’ll be supporting William, he said: “Absolutely, we’re all going to be with him. He has a great opportunity to be a world champion so we’ll be with him.”
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