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Arteta vows to defend Arsenal with ‘teeth and nails’ after Covid postponement

London (AFP) – Mikel Arteta vowed to defend Arsenal’s reputation with “teeth and nails” after criticism of the club’s successful request to postpone the north London derby against Tottenham.

The Gunners asked for last Sunday’s game to be rescheduled, with a significant number of players unavailable due to a mixture of international duty, injuries, suspension and coronavirus cases.

“We didn’t have the players necessary to put a squad out to compete in a Premier League match, that is 100 percent,” Arsenal boss Arteta said on Wednesday.

“This is a no-win situation. When we play the first three games of the season when other games were off, we were killed and called naive. Now we postpone a match for all the right reasons, believe me, and we get these reactions?”

Arsenal lost their opening three Premier League fixtures after Covid-19 outbreak at the club.

Spurs had reacted angrily to the Premier League’s decision to call off the visit of their London rivals.

“It’s the first time in my life — and I’ve had a bit of experience in football — to see postponed games because of injuries,” said Tottenham manager Antonio Conte.

But, speaking ahead of Thursday’s League Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool, Arteta insisted the criticism was wide of the mark and said Arsenal did not have the numbers to put a squad together.

– Arteta hits back –

“We will defend our club with teeth and nails. We will not let anybody damage our name or try to lie about things,” the former Arsenal captain said.

“When a team have come to us and said ‘we cannot play, these are the reasons’ and the game has been postponed, we have never ever publicly questioned any of that.”

The Arsenal v Liverpool match at the Emirates Stadium should have been the first leg of the League Cup semi-final two weeks ago, before a coronavirus outbreak within the Liverpool camp led to its postponement.

Arsenal held Liverpool to a goalless draw in the first leg at Anfield last week despite playing more than an hour with 10 men after the dismissal of Granit Xhaka.

Arteta also told reporters that forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month, was back in London to undergo medical tests after Gabon sent him home from the Africa Nations Cup.

“He is in London and now is going through some examinations because we haven’t had any clarity from the Gabon national team over the reasons why he came back,” said the Arsenal boss.

In his own press conference, Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders said he had no complaints over recent Covid postponements both in the Premier League and the League Cup.

“It’s really difficult to judge from outside,” said Lijnders, who himself tested positive earlier this month during an outbreak at Liverpool.

“We saw this with our own situation. I fully respect the submissions because I trust 100 percent the medical departments of each Premier League club. I think this is the most important thing, full trust in these decisions.”

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  1. Michael F

    January 21, 2022 at 4:46 pm

    @Nosferatu Good comments. Yea I just don’t get the Arteta bashing at all. The club has a clear forward direction that makes sense and these unrealistic Arsenal fans should pause and enjoy the journey it’s taking. Arsenal hasn’t been a top 4 club for many years, but they have a good plan to be one again soon. Like you said, youngest team in the league and the new entries Arteta and team has brought in are contributing impressively and showing us potential to truly get excited about.

  2. Nosferatu

    January 21, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    @Michael F., right on with that assessment. This game doesn’t feel like a good one by which to judge the team or Arteta because, despite all the whinging of media and fans, the team has been in bad shape (hence the postponement that ruined all that is good and pure in English football!)–riddled with injuries and players out with Covid, which, you know, isn’t always immediately easy to bounce back from. A number of guys out there yesterday hadn’t trained in at least a week.

    Arteta has certainly faced some growing pains, but I think he’s done a great job of building something. With the 8th place finishes to start his career (the first of which was only half a season and included an FA Cup trophy), I think he had the team at just about its level when you consider the talent in the squad. The work that he and Edu have done–which takes time–to cull the team of malcontents and overpaid players who see the club as a well-paid resort, was necessary. Now they’re bringing in and building a team with hope and potential, but it’s still the youngest team in the league which means growing pains are inevitable.

    While a top-4 finish this year would be great, I’d be happy with top-6. That would feel right. And then bring in a good striker and a midfielder to improve on Xhaka and you can aim for top-4 next year more realistically.

  3. Michael F

    January 21, 2022 at 10:13 am

    I liked MarkB’s comment, that was good.

    @Hans I seriously wonder what place in the EPL table you think an elite manager like Pep or Klopp or Conte would have this current Arsenal squad in, if they were its manager?

    Some of the criticism might be warranted regarding Arteta, but I also think it is so very common to see fans have such unrealistic expectations, based on where a squad is to date with the players they got and the changes they’ve made.

    Me? I think Arsenal is about the best we can expect with the current squad they have the maturation of its players. Look who is above them in the table currently. Anything more would be absolute gravy with a couple of matches in hand, and anything less might even be understandable.

    I might put your expectations in the unrealistic category. Like so many fans. Typical.

  4. Hans

    January 20, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    The problem is Arteta and his S..t S..w!

  5. MarkB

    January 20, 2022 at 4:37 pm

    Good thing they’re defending their postponement with “teeth and nails”, because their defending against Liverpool is more like hankies and handbags. Partey lol

  6. Mercator

    January 19, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    Yes, it’s obviously Xhaka. He got a yellow for time wasting on a free kick in the 85th against leeds. We were up 4 – 1 and I remember thinking what an idiot there is no need to time waste, but it’s Xhaka he gets a dumb card every game. Now you can see comments on twitter from the day of the match pointing out absurd bets being placed on Xhaka getting a yellow right before the incident happened. If you see the clip of the yellow again and then look at the bets coming in it’s pretty obvious actually. And not to disparage his background but he is exactly the sort of guy with some shady balkan friends dumb enough to try some amateur stuff like this.

    Can’t wait for the Amazon documentary lol

  7. greg

    January 19, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    Whoa, this story?


    Is it Xhaka? I mean, could be 3 or 4 on that team who seem to get dumb cards. He of course being the main offender.

  8. Mercator

    January 19, 2022 at 1:07 pm

    Uhh from the Athletic this morning it seems like the FA has Xhaka dead to rights on a betting scheme. I don’t think Arteta’s biggest issue is worrying what Spurs fans think because the match was postponed.

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