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Arteta Taking Nothing For Granted

Europa League
// 29 Oct 2020

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says that his side will be taking nothing for granted when they face the Lilywhites on UEFA Europa League MD2 at the Arsenal Stadium this evening.

Speaking at his press conference on Wednesday morning, the Gunners coach said that he was impressed by Dundalk in our 2-1 loss to Molde on MD1 and that he had been tapping into some of his Irish staff for some background information.

“We’ve got some Irish staff here and there are a lot of positive things about them,” he told arsenalfc.com. “From what I’ve seen they’ve got a really determined coach that has found a really good cohesion with the team. 

“You can see in every reaction when they are playing, how united they are. They’re really well organised, they make it really hard and they will be coming here with incredible passion. They’re underdogs and that will give them a lot of energy and I expect them to be at full gas tomorrow, trying to beat us here.”

Dundalk head into the game as rank outsiders to pull off what would undoubtedly be the greatest result in the club’s history. Filippo Giovagnoli has described it as a meeting of a ‘super lightweight against a heavyweight’ and Arteta said he was wary of getting hit by a sucker-punch.

The Arsenal players arrive for training ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group B stage match with Dundalk FC. Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC

“I don’t know,” he replied when asked about an upset. “This is football and I’ve seen a lot of things in this game, so I don’t take anything for granted. I always expect the opponent to be at their best. After that, I try to convince my players what we have to do to win the game and execute it in the best possible way. That’s it and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

 “As I’ve said, Dundalk’s strengths are the unity of the team and how hard they work together and how well they are organised. There are a few bits where they look really dangerous in certain contexts. 

Against us, in certain situations, it’s a little more complicated, but yes, if you allow any team time and space, they will create issues. They’re really strong on set-pieces as well and I’m sure they will have prepared them for tomorrow, so we will have to control the normal aspects we do every week.”

Turning his attention to Giovagnoli, Arteta said that he was fascinated by the Italian’s Cinderella tale which has seen him arrive in Ireland as an unknown only to lead Dundalk to the group stages of the UEFA Europa League.

“I think it’s a great story and linking different backgrounds and different countries into that history is a good one to hear,” said Arteta. “I watched a long interview with him because I wanted to know who he is, what he is trying to do and what he is trying to express to his players. 

“This is where I found out what happened and straight away he said he could feel that the players believed in what they were doing, which is everything that a coach wants. I think they have created really good chemistry that has given them a big boost from last season. Big merit to them for the work that they are doing.”