We got straight down to work on Friday as we started our warm-weather training camp in Dubai.
Afterwards, we sat down with Mikel Arteta to discuss the trip, the benefits it will bring and more.
Press the ‘Play’ button above to watch the interview or you can read a full transcript below.
Mikel, we’re here in Dubai on day one of our mid-season training camp. How it it to be here?
We are really excited. The weather conditions and the facilities we have here for train are phenomenal, the boys are in good spirits and we had a really good training session.
This season has been full on with games every couple of days, how much of a benefit is it for you to take the whole group away and work on your ideas here?
Just the fact of having everyone together, not just the players but the staff and the backroom staff to spend some time together and work on some things that we have to improve because we haven’t really had time to work with the 20 or 22 players since I have been here.
We have just come out of a very intense period do the season, so how are we managing the workload of the players now ahead of the run it?
They needed three or four days off to relax their minds as well, recover the bodies. They have been through a lot in the last few months and now I think they are ready to have five or six really good training sessions here before we go back to London and focus and prepare as well as we can for the game against Newcastle.
Of course we have brought the injured players along who are rehabbing as well. How important do you think that is in terms of the group dynamic?
Exactly, this is what I want to create. The new players that we have, it is a great opportunity for them to spend time together with the other players, get to know each other, live together - the same with the backroom staff as well. I think it will be a very important break.
You mention the new players, Pablo Mari and Cedric weren’t quite ready for the Burnley game. We have seen them doing some work today, so how has their progress been and are you optimistic of having them available after the break?
With Pablo a little bit more than Cedric, but we have to go step by step. He is a new player and I am sure he is very excited and wants to prove everything in three days, so we have to manage him wisely.
Away from the training pitch, a lot of the players have been in Dubai for a few days. How important is it for their mentality to have been able to switch off somewhat?
You have to, you can’t just maintain the same level of demands of pressure throughout 10 months, it is impossible. You need those breaks. We suggested Dubai because we have those relationships with our sponsor, ut as well because the weather conditions are really good and the players like to come here. We knew most of them were going to come here and relax with their families and be ready for training.
And now they are here and ready for training, you have repeatedly tressed about living together, so what does this camp give you that you couldn’t perhaps get if we stayed back in England?
Hours together, to spend together, grab a coffee together, to have conversations, to have unit meetings, individual meetings, group meetings about the things we have to achieve. To review what we have done. I have made a big review of what we have done so far in these five or six weeks, the things where we can improve, the areas where we have improved and that we have to maintain, that we cannot lose. Hopefully we can make another step forward as a team now.
This is the first time the Premier League has had a winter break. Is this something you wish they had when you were a player?
One hundred per cnet. We were always complaining or frustrated that the demands of games were really hectic and we didn’t have time to recover. I think it will be useful.
It has long been suggested that the lack of a winter break has hampered players, especially in season where we have a tournament in the summer. Do you think they might benefit from that this time around?
Absolutely. It is not just the physical side, it is a psychological thing. To maintain for 10 months this type of level is very complicated, so I think it will be a positive thing for the league.
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