Arsenal will resume their Premier League campaign against Manchester City on June 17th. Here is why Mikel Arteta offers hope for the league’s resumption.
It is official. The Premier League has a restart date. After an extensive meeting on Thursday in which clubs discussed a wide range of topics including the fixture list, scheduling dates for matches and other training protocols, and addressing questions and concerns that certain players or teams may have, the league finally announced its return.
It will all start on June 17th. Arsenal are one of the season re-openers, travelling to Manchester City as one of two matches alongside Sheffield United and Aston Villa to even up the number of games played across the league.
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When the season resumes, many things will have changed. There are the obvious differences, like no fans in the stadiums, the use of five substitutes, the potential lack of fitness that some players suffer from after three months without any competitive action. But then there are more subtle developments which will have a major impact on certain teams: players returning from injury, others sitting out matches due to health concerns, and the added time that coaches have been able to work with their players. It is this last development that could help Arsenal immensely.
In his first three months as Arsenal head coach, Mikel Arteta proved that he could improve the team. He implemented a whole host of tactical ideas that drastically improved the collective performances. Many individuals benefitted from the roles that Arteta carved out for them. The Gunners were a more cohesive, connected, and entirely well-coached outfit as a result of Arteta’s work on the training ground.
This all happened during the busiest portion of the season with games coming every three or four days, injuries galore, especially across the backline, and Arteta dealing with limited time on the training ground to truly and effectively communicate his ideas. Now he has had three months off to review the work he has done, analyse his team’s performances, and determine how he can further improve them.
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Of course, of these three months, two have been spent away from the training ground. Players have remained in lockdown and had to keep fit with personalised home workouts. But Arteta has still been able to work with them extensively, keeping in regular contact via video calls and working through video analysis on their individual performances thus far.
This is not nearly the same as getting on the training pitch and learning by doing, admittedly, but it will have an impact on the way in which Arsenal play when the Premier League returns. And Arteta and the players have been back at London Colney for the past two weeks and are now back in full-contact training. That is three weeks of preparation, which is almost like a mini-preseason, something that Arteta never got the benefit of when he was first hired.
In Arteta, then, Arsenal have a coach who has already proven that he tactically improve his team. Now with more time to bed in his ideas and work on the details of his system, this could benefit them no end. It will take time for the players to get sharp, admittedly, but Arteta will have them better prepared than most. And that immediately puts the Gunners ahead in the race to the restart.