Mikel Arteta has told his squad that they all have a fresh start, as Arsenal prepare to kick off the upcoming season.
The Gunners get the 2020/21 season underway with the Community Shield on Saturday, where they face league champions Liverpool. As they continue preparations for the Wembley showpiece and the Premier League season, Arteta has explained his mindset going into the new campaign.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference (as quoted by BT Sport), Arteta said: “I have been really clear that everybody starts from zero. All the time in football, what you did two weeks ago or two years ago doesn’t matter.
“It is what you are able to contribute to the team now, so everybody is going to have the same opportunities.”
Arsenal are starting the new season just 28 days after finishing the last, which saw them secure silverware in the FA Cup. The Gunners beat London rivals Chelsea 2-1 in the final, with a brace from captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang securing a record 14th triumph.
Arteta added: “They have to show with their performance and attitude that they are better than their team-mates or they are somehow contributing to what we want to achieve this season.”
The manager’s message may elicit a sigh of relief from a number of players, especially those who found themselves exiled from the squad after lockdown. Mesut Özil missed all 13 games after the restart, while Lucas Torreira made just two league starts in the same period.
However, no player will be more reassured than Mattéo Guendouzi. Having featured in 79% of Arsenal’s games before football’s unexpected pause, his behaviour in a 2-1 defeat to Brighton saw the Frenchman fail to make another appearance, even being sent to train apart from the first team.
Speaking about Guendouzi, Arteta said: “I told him exactly that, that he is going to be part of the team and at the moment he is like any other player in our squad. He deserves, first of all, to be treated exactly the same and I will do that to the best of my capability.”
As FA Cup winners, Arsenal return to Wembley for the Community Shield, facing Liverpool on Saturday. The Gunners then kick off the Premier League season with a London derby, travelling to Craven Cottage to play promoted Fulham on 12 September.
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