With tomorrow’s game against Wolves the final match before the World Cup, Mikel Arteta has revealed he has urged those players selected for Qatar not to worry about potentially picking up an injury that could see them miss the tournament.
With three Premier League points and a spot on top of the table at Christmas up for grabs at Molineux on Saturday evening, the boss doesn’t want to see his players shy away from the physicality of a top-flight match.
Arteta believes that injuries can occur when players play within themselves, and has reminded our squad to be as committed as usual to help us leave Wolverhampton with a win.
“We’ve discussed that topic before and I always said to them, if you are thinking about an injury, it is probably going to happen,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen today, the next day, or the first day of your preparations for the World Cup, so get it out of your minds.
“You are professional athletes, and this risk is always there for you. Do your job and commit yourself to everything that you do in every action, and the risk will be less.”
Wolves received a confidence boost by beating Leeds United in the Carabao Cup in midweek, having only won once in their last eight league games. However, Mikel believes they have been playing better than their results suggest, and is ready for a tough encounter in the West Midlands in what will be Steve Davis' last game in interim charge.
Evaluating our opponents, he said: "Obviously, they are in a moment as well with very special circumstances. I think Steve has done a really good job looking at the games they have played.
"We were watching the midweek game they played and the game before that they lost not really meriting to lose the game. We know, Saturday night at the stadium will be busy and it will be a tough game."
In the stands for tomorrow’s game will be incoming boss Julen Lopetegui - a manager that Mikel knows well. He believes he’ll be a great addition to the Premier League, and is looking forward to renewing acquaintances in 2023.
“He’s a great coach, his career talks for itself,” Arteta added. ”What he did at Sevilla, what he did in Portugal, what he did for the national team, he’s a really good coach.
“[He’s from] not far from where I live, so I know him really, really well and hopefully after tomorrow he can have a very successful period here.”
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