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Arteta frustrated by Arsenal fixture schedule

ESPN staff
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Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta has said he "does not understand" why Arsenal must face Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime, having played at Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The Gunners, five points clear at the top of the Premier League, travel to the Etihad Stadium for a 12.45pm kick-off, and Arteta believes that gives them insufficient recovery time.

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He said the players remained upbeat ahead of their trip to the highest-scoring home side in the top flight, but told The Guardian: "The recovery time is very tight.

"I don't understand why we play Sunday afternoon [a 1-1 draw at home to Everton], Wednesday evening, get back at 4am and then play again on Saturday morning in Manchester.

"There is nothing we can do, just recover well. It's a big game and we want to win it. The preparation will just be about recovery. It's not ideal.

"I think we have different options [in the squad]. You could see that we changed the team a bit again against Napoli. We have to be ready - no excuses. We know it can be a big statement if we get a good result against City. That's what we want."

In his press conference after the 2-0 defeat in Italy, Wenger said he would have to dash because he and the players "have to fly directly to Manchester because the game is so early."

Manchester City, Arteta said, "will be ready for us - they rested seven or eight players in Munich on Tuesday night" - but City, unlike Arsenal, had already ensured their qualification for the knockout stages by the time they played the Bundesliga champions.

Despite losing to Napoli, the Gunners went through as group runners-up, and Arteta said: "In the position we were in, we wanted to finish first because we know we will face really difficult opposition in the next round, so we are disappointed.

"We can compete with any team in Europe on our day but we are making it tougher on ourselves. If we had finished first, it would have been a different story, but we will take it on the chin."

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