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Arteta discusses his ‘challenge’ of managing his Arsenal team ahead of Zurich and Chelsea games

Mikel Arteta has opened up on his plans to manage his Arsenal side ahead of crucial clashes with FC Zurich and Chelsea this week.

It has certainly been a relentless season so far for every team playing European football, with the mid-season World Cup further squeezing what is already a congested fixture list.

Arsenal have already qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League, but will need to win against Zurich – or to better PSV Eindhoven’s result – in order to secure top spot in Group A, with top spot seeing them bypass a two-legged playoff round against a Champions League dropout team and head straight to the last 16.

Mikel Arteta has frequently talked about the importance of finishing top of the group, and the Spaniard insists he will put out a ‘competitive’ team for the visit of the Swiss outfit.

“I don’t approach games thinking that after half an hour or 45 minutes we will get the result that we want, but certainly I will have a really competitive team out there,” Arteta told his pre-match press conference.

”We missed the chance in Holland last week and Thursday is the last opportunity to achieve our goal.”

Following Thursday night’s clash, Arsenal then take on Chelsea in a hotly anticipated London derby, and Arteta was asked about the challenge of balancing his squad selections.

“It is a challenge but we have been trying to load the players pretty equally over the last five or six weeks, because we have been playing every three days and we have managed to do that.

“You have seen that we haven’t repeated too many blocks of four games for certain individuals and we will try to continue to do that to get everyone as fresh as possible and with enough rhythm heading into the game.”

Chelsea play their final Champions League 24 hours before Arsenal’s game with Zurich, before Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge kicks off in the early 12pm slot, and Arteta was asked if the scheduling gave Chelsea an advantage.

“We know that, and playing in the Europa League we know that this can be an issue, and that’s it. It is a very early kick-off which is a little bit unusual when you play on Thursday nights, but it is what we have.”

Read – Barcelona eye Arteta as a future manager

See also – Five Premier League players who’ve been surprisingly good this season

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