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Arteta ‘excited’ to reignite his love affair with football following virus outbreak

Gunners boss hoping north Londoners can take advantage of an empty Etihad Stadium when they return to Premier League action at Man City

11 June, 2020

Mikel Arteta will face friend and mentor Pep Guardiola for the first time as a manager when Arsenal travel to Man City on Wednesday 

MIKEL Arteta is hoping that Arsenal can take advantage of an empty Etihad Stadium when they return to Premier League action away at Manchester City on Wednesday.

The Gunners’ first match back following the coronavirus outbreak that halted football across Europe will see Arteta tackle his former employers in what the Spaniard says will be “an exciting” but “strange” occasion.

Arteta spent four years on the coaching staff working alongside Pep Guardiola at City, before taking over as Arsenal boss in December.

“Playing against City is going to be strange, I can’t deny that. I know everybody there and spent four magnificent years with those players and staff,” Arteta told The Football Show.

“I am really excited as well, I can’t wait to start competing again and doing what we love, playing football. It is going to be very special for me and I am looking forward to it.”

Football in Germany has already returned, and the early stats show that the absence of supporters has, so far, led to a drop in the number of matches being won by the home teams.

With Arsenal’s trip to City being followed by league games away to Brighton and Southampton, and then an FA Cup quarter-final clash at Sheffield United, Arteta hopes the same impact will be felt in England.

He added: “We have got a good measure with what is happening in the Bundesliga at the moment. I hope it is going to help. Football is about passion and energy and when you lose that, it is balanced much more.

“It better be right that playing away is an advantage because we are away four times in a row.”

Arsenal’s preparations for the big Premier League restart have been mixed – hitting Charlton for six on Saturday, but then losing 3-2 against Brentford yesterday (Wednesday).

Arteta said: “We are trying different things and giving minutes to all the players. We’re getting adapted to playing in an empty stadium as well, and not getting that energy from the fans.”

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