Arteta sees squad improvements ahead of new season

Mikel Arteta feels the biggest positive from tonight’s Emirates Cup win against Monaco is seeing more of his squad get minutes under their belts ahead of the new season.

We drew 1-1 with the Ligue 1 side before succeeding in a penalty shootout to claim the silverware, with Mikel naming a starting XI with the intention of boosting match sharpness for the likes of William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu who missed the end of last season through injury.

That, coupled with further playing time for Jurrien Timber, Declan Rice and Kai Havertz, meant the boss was satisfied with his team’s night’s work, as Sunday’s Community Shield edges closer.

Reflecting on the game, he said: “There were some improvements. We had minutes for a lot of players that didn’t have many minutes in pre-season, which was a key thing for us today to achieve. We did that and came through the game.

“There are players that haven’t played a lot of football in the last five months and they got some minutes, especially in the last two weeks, so that’s really good to see. I think the new players are fitting in really well – we have to still fix a few things which is normal because they’re coming from different environments, but they’re looking good.”

Eddie Nketiah’s goal cancelled out Youssouf Fofana’s opener in the first half, and while Mikel feels we grew into the game as it went on, he feels the long travel home from California had an effect on his players, which will have been shaken off before we face Manchester City on the weekend.

“It’s true that we struggled, especially in the first half, to control the game better,” he added.”I felt that we were a bit leggy after coming back from the West Coast and we tried to prepare really hard for the last two days before the game, and we were a bit late in everything we were doing. 

“We picked it up in the second half, we had better moments but it wasn’t enough to win the game there. But at least we won it on penalties.”

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