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Mikel Arteta says Arsenal’s recent friendly matches were about adapting to playing in an empty stadium as much as anything else.
Arsenal played a couple of friendlies over the last week, beating Charlton 6-0 before succumbing to Brentford 3-2.
The results weren’t really important, particularly given the widespread substitutions in both games. It was more about experimentation, fitness and adaptation. Arteta explained to Sky Sports why Arsenal played the matches.
“We are trying different things and we’re trying to give minutes in the legs to all the players,” Arteta explained. “Obviously you have to change a lot of players through the games.
“We’re getting adapted to playing in an empty stadium as well and not getting that energy from the fans.”
It’s not an easy situation, trying to restart the season after a few months away. The players had to spend a lot of time alone, as many of us have had to, and it’s not hard to lose the sense of team spirit in that period.
Arteta says the club had a particular focus on addressing this problem since March.
“With the players, the most important is their mental health, that’s vital,” Arteta continued. “They have their routines and they’re used to being around people and this is a different situation.
“I have spent a lot of time trying to get to know them better and treat them individually and make sure they are getting looked after.”
This is positive to hear purely for the sake of the welfare of the players. I’d hope we all want to feel like the club we support are taking care of the professionals on the pitch. But that sense of community should also bring benefits in matches as well.
We’ll see the results of the squad’s work over the coming weeks when competitive matches are back.