Arteta happy Arsenal remain in title hunt despite recent struggles
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Arsenal’s match against Aston Villa kicked off at 12.30pm despite the Gunners facing Manchester City on Wednesday. Premier League rules mean that teams who are involved in Wednesday Champions League games will not be given the early kick-off slot on a Saturday but this does not extend to all competitions, much to the displeasure of Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal have travelled to Villa Park as they look to get their Premier League title charge back on track. The Gunners have picked up just one point from their last three matches and surrendered top spot after their 3-1 defeat to City in midweek.
The match has been chosen by BT Sport for coverage and as such will get started in their usual 12.30 slot despite the Gunners being involved in such a tense encounter in midweek. Clubs that play in the Champions League on a Wednesday night are banned from being involved in a lunchtime kick-off on a Saturday, however the rules do not extend to other competitions including the Premier League.
Arteta has made his view on the subject clear, suggesting his players are at a disadvantage and increased risk of injury at Villa Park as a result of the decision.
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“There are certain rules with the Champions League teams,” he told reporters before the match. “When you are playing on Wednesday night, you cannot play on Saturday lunchtime. That should apply to any competition.
“It’s been discussed at the managers’ meetings and that is why the changes were made towards the Champions League teams. If you follow the same principle physiologically, it is very difficult to turn around in that period to get the best outcome and reduce the injury risk for players.
“They put the schedule the way they did and it’s a bit unusual, but it is what it is. The players are highly motivated for the Villa game because we want to perform well and win.”
The Gunners will seek to move back to the top of the Premier League with a win against Villa. Arteta believes that being second will bring a different kind of pressure, one his players can take advantage of.
“That’s an opportunity,” he said when asked about losing top spot. “We’ve talked about it for a few months now, the position that we’re in, the way the team is playing, and all the right things that we have to continue to do to earn the right to be there. We’ve seen where the level is, we want to be at that level and we are on that journey together.”
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