The Sunday News
Mikel Arteta fears that the English Premier Soccer League games will lack their normal intensity when the season gets back underway on Wednesday.
There have been no top-flight matches in England in over three months now following the coronavirus lockdown, and the Arsenal coach admits it will take time for players to get back up to speed.
With teams granted just weeks of preparation time and limited match practice, he admitted the fitness of players is ‘the big question mark’. He told Sky Sports’ The Football Show: “We’ve been trying in big groups just for 10 days, you can play friendly games, you can play 45 minutes but it’s not Premier League rhythm at all. It will be very difficult to sustain big rhythm for 90 minutes for the first few games at least.”
The Premier League have waved through a raft of rule changes ahead of Project Restart, with one of the most radical being the increase in use of substitutions in games. Each team is now allowed to make five in a game instead of the usual three, and Arteta admits this could be a game changer for the remainder of the campaign.
He added: “A new thing we have to adapt to as coaches, communication will be important too. Changing five players will really change the game plan.”
Arsenal played Charlton at the Emirates last weekend, winning 6-0, but suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Brentford on Wednesday in their second warm-up match. Arsenal will contest the second game of the Premier League restart, hosting Manchester City on June 17. DailyMail.uk