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Mikel Arteta concerned over rescheduling of north London derby with Tottenham

The Arsenal boss has already criticised the Premier League fixture list.

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Mikel Arteta is concerned over the rescheduling of Arsenal’s game with Tottenham (Nick Potts/PA)

Mikel Arteta is concerned over the rescheduling of Arsenal’s game with Tottenham (Nick Potts/PA)

Mikel Arteta is concerned over the rescheduling of Arsenal’s game with Tottenham (Nick Potts/PA)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has expressed concern over when the north London derby with Tottenham will be rearranged after standing by his criticism of the Premier League’s scheduling.

Arteta sarcastically said “thank you to the Premier League” and claimed it was “not fair” that the Gunners have to travel to Aston Villa on Saturday lunchtime having been in action against Liverpool on Wednesday night.

The game against Tottenham, which was called off in January after Arsenal had a shortage of players, has yet to be rearranged, with broadcasters seemingly keen to hold it back in order for it to have more significance in the top-four battle.

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Arsenal suffered defeat to Liverpool on Wednesday (John Walton/PA)

Arsenal suffered defeat to Liverpool on Wednesday (John Walton/PA)

Arsenal suffered defeat to Liverpool on Wednesday (John Walton/PA)

The Spaniard is keen to ensure the rearranged date will not leave them with a quick turnaround for their next game.

Asked whether he had concerns about when their trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be, he said: “Yes, because I don’t know and it is going to be important.

“It is nothing to do with me, the club has to arrange those conversations. Hopefully (we have a say), I would doubt it but hopefully.”

Arteta was keen to clarify that he understands teams who compete in Europe are expected to play Wednesday night and then Saturday lunchtime, but insists it is not acceptable in the Premier League.

“I heard some comments about when you are in Europe, that is nothing new, that is nothing new to me, but I am not talking about Europe, I am talking about the Premier League and how we schedule the games in the Premier League,” he said.

“When you are in Europe it is a different story, but I am talking about the Premier League and it is very different. We have been the only team who has been scheduled like that. I am not talking about Europe, because some of those teams are not going to be involved in Europe.

“The first thing is to protect the players and we have mentioned that many times, please can we avoid the Wednesday night and the Saturday morning and travelling?

“I understand they have the commitments and TV, we understand that. But if you do it once, OK, please don’t do it twice. We still have to put the fixture of Spurs, are we going to be a third time?”

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Takehiro Tomiyasu has been out since January with a calf injury (Martin Rickett/PA)

Takehiro Tomiyasu has been out since January with a calf injury (Martin Rickett/PA)

Takehiro Tomiyasu has been out since January with a calf injury (Martin Rickett/PA)

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The quick turnaround leaves Arteta needing to assess his squad ahead of the trip to Villa Park.

Right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu will be checked as he tries to make a comeback from a calf injury which has kept him out since January.

“No news, yesterday we recovered after the game and today we will have the first session and we will see how everyone is today,” Arteta added.

“There is a chance but we don’t know, again the training session today and we will see how everyone is feeling.

“He had a recurring injury in the same place and after that you have to be a little bit more cautious.”

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Aaron Ramsdale was one of four Arsenal players in the England squad (PA)

Aaron Ramsdale was one of four Arsenal players in the England squad (PA)

Aaron Ramsdale was one of four Arsenal players in the England squad (PA)

Arsenal had four players named in the England squad for the friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast, with Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka getting the nod from Gareth Southgate.

All four have been a driving force in the Gunners’ return to the top four race this season and Arteta is pleased that the spine of his team is English.

“We should have a core of English players, that’s for sure, and if those players are coming through our academy even better,” he said. “I think it’s something that has to be related to the tradition and the history of the club.

“I think it’s very important to understand and protect as well all the values of the club and if they can play for England it’s great.”

If Arsenal are to sustain their challenge next season they will need to strengthen, with Arteta insisting they have to be flexible in the transfer market.

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Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal must be flexible in the transfer market (PA)

Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal must be flexible in the transfer market (PA)

Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal must be flexible in the transfer market (PA)

“There are certain things that we have to achieve in the summer that are not always especially age-related, but things we want to add to the squad,” he said.

“There are a lot of topics that are very important and we have to find the right piece.

“The importance of the priority when we find that player, maybe the top priority won’t be the age in that position. Maybe in another one, yes. So we’ll have to get that right.”

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