Mikel Arteta wants Arsenal ‘to do then forget’ Europa League last-32 qualification

Alex Young
·3-min read
<p>Get the job done: Mikel Arteta</p> (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Get the job done: Mikel Arteta

(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta has urged Arsenal to wrap up qualification for the Europa League knockout stages on Thursday so they can rest players during the hectic festive schedule.

Arsenal take on Molde in Norway tonight and they will qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League if they better Rapid Vienna’s result against Dundalk.

The Gunners have so far won all their games in Group B and Arteta wants to settle the group at the first time of asking ahead of the busy festive period.

The Premier League fixtures for December are due to be released on Thursday and top-flight mangers have voiced concerns about the schedule.

Arteta is wary about the busy period too and wants to be able to rest players in the Europa League.

“For the squad management, in football when you have the chance to grab something you have to do it in that moment,” he said.

“You don’t know what's going to happen in a week’s time, two weeks’ time, in any game. There are a lot of things that can happen.

“I always tell the players: ‘When you have it, you can do it today, then do it and then forget about it, then let’s move on’.”

Several managers have voiced their displeasure at this season’s schedule, particularly Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

The German has highlighted the issue of matches kicking off at 12.30pm on a Saturday, even when teams like his are playing in Europe.

Arteta has expressed sympathy with Klopp and agreed more must be done to protect the players going forward.

“We can give a few hours at least. It makes a huge difference in this schedule when you are playing twice away around Europe, it makes the recovery time incredibly difficult,” he said.

“So yeah, if they take that on board, then I think it’s beneficial for all parties because at the end [of the day] it’s an entertainment business and we have to provide the best possible outcome for that.

“That only happens when the players are in the best condition to perform and are physically ready to go.”

Arteta is still expected to name a fairly strong side against Molde, despite having injury problems of his own.

Bukayo Saka (dead leg) and Willian (calf) are out after picking up injuries against Leeds on Sunday, while Thomas Partey is still absent with a thigh issue.

A number of youngsters have travelled in their place and could get time to shine off the bench.

One of those is Folarin Balogun. The teenager has a year to run on his current deal but, after handing him his debut this season, Arteta wants him to stay.

"You can see the talent is there, the ambition is there and he can fit with our stricture and progress in the future,” he said.

“He’s part of the DNA and myself and the club are working to try to extend his contract. We’re trying to change the situation that we are in at the moment with him, and trying to convince him that this is the right place for him.”

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