Mikel Arteta is hoping Arsenal can take advantage of playing behind-closed-doors as he prepares to make a ‘strange’ return to Manchester City next week.
Arsenal travel to face City at the Etihad on June 17 as the Premier League prepares to make its long-awaited return behind-closed-doors, the original fixture postponed prior to the season’s suspension following Arteta’s positive test for coronavirus.
The clash will mark Arteta’s first return to Manchester following his decision to leave Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff to take charge at the Emirates, and the Spaniard admits it will be a ‘strange’ experience to face his former side.
“It is going to be strange, I can’t deny that. I know everybody there and spent four magnificent years with those players and staff,” Arteta told The Football Show.
“I am really excited as well, I can’t wait to start competing again and doing what we love most which is to play football.
“It is going to be very special for me and I am looking forward to it.”
Much has been made about football’s return without supporters, with evidence from the Bundesliga’s restart suggesting that behind-closed-doors fixtures neutralises home advantage. Arteta is hopeful that his side can benefit from facing the champions in an empty stadium, though is aware of the formidable challenge presented by Guardiola’s side.
"You better be right playing away is an advantage!" 😂
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 11, 2020
“We have got a good measure with what is happening in the Bundesliga at the moment,” Arteta said. “I hope it is going to help.
“Football is about passion and energy and when you lose that, it is balanced much more.
“But, I know how strong they are and what they are able to do if they are all switched on so we have to be well prepared to go there and win the game.
“It better be right that playing away is an advantage because we are away four times in a row.”
Arsenal have upped their preparations for the league’s restart with friendly fixtures against Championship opposition in Charlton and Brentford, beating the Addicks 6-0 before succumbing to a 3-2 loss to Thomas Frank’s promotion-chasing side on Wednesday.
The Spaniard, however, is unconcerned by the surprise loss and says the fixtures have been beneficial in helping his side find both fitness and rhythm.
“We are trying different things and give minutes to all the players,” Arteta explained.
“We’re getting adapted to playing in an empty stadium as well and not getting that energy from the fans.”