Mikel Arteta is confident ’s return to the will not be a major disruption despite claiming the competition will ‘cost points’ in the .
The north Londoners are competing in Europe’s top club competition for the first time since the 2016-17 season and resume the campaign following the international break with three difficult matches in quick succession.
First up, Arsenal travel to Everton on Sunday before hosting PSV – who have a 100 per cent record in the Eredivisie so far this season – on Wednesday in their first match back in the Champions League since a 5-1 defeat at home to Bayern Munich in March 2017.
Just four days later, they then take on a resurgent Tottenham side at the Emirates in the north London derby, with the visitors having a free week off in the build-up.
Speaking on David Seaman’s podcast this week, Wenger suggested this season as a result of their European commitments, saying: ‘We have to deal with the Champions League, so that costs points as well.’
But Arteta feels the Gunners are more than equipped to deal with their return to the Champions League and is excited by the trio of games that awaits his side this coming week.
Asked how much playing the Champions League games will test Arsenal, Arteta replied: ‘Well, it’s exactly the same as last year. We played every three days, but it was the Europa League. So the competition is different.
‘Obviously, the demands of that competition and the expectations are different, especially as we’ve been away from there for seven years. But it’s excitement.
‘This is where we want to be. When you look at the fixtures and the games that we have to play, I think everybody’s really looking forward to it.’
On facing Everton, PSV and Spurs over the next week, he continued: ‘I’m really excited about it obviously. First, Everton is the only one that we have in mind. Obviously our record speaks for itself.
‘In the last six years we haven’t won there, so we’re going to have to earn it and we know that we’re going to have to be at our best to beat them there and it’s something that we haven’t managed to do, so that’s where we’re going to start.’
Arteta also touched on CEO Vinai Venkatesham announcing he would step away from his role next summer, saying: ‘He’s been here 14 years and I think he has a right to make that call. He’s made that call. He thinks it’s the best thing for him, for his future, for his family.
‘For what I can say from my side: I had a great working relationship with him. I enjoy it. He’s a person, first of all, that I value, who has been integral in what we’ve done and I want to wish him the best. But I think he still have a lot of things to do in the meantime until the end of the season!’
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