Mikel Arteta has bemoaned UEFA’s decision to swap Tottenham’s Europa League ties ahead of a crunch north London derby.
The local rivals had both been drawn away from home for the Europa League round of 16. But under UEFA rules, two clubs from the same city cannot play on the same day.
That means Spurs will now host Dinamo Zagreb at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on March 11, three days before they head across town to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal, as FA Cup holders, were technically prioritised by UEFA – meaning their tie against Olympiacos stays as it was.
But that means the Gunners face a near-3,000 mile round trip to Athens before hosting the derby.
Arteta said Arsenal can “raise their voices” about the decision after admitting it gives Tottenham the edge going into their match.
“It does, but unfortunately it’s not going to change,” he said.
“We can raise our voices and we should do that because we want to have two teams playing in equal conditions. But the decision has been made and that’s it.”
Instead, Arteta wants his players to use the perceived handicap as motivation to avenge their 2-0 defeat at Spurs in December.
“I don’t want to use one bit of excuse going towards that game saying, ‘oh, they have an advantage’,” he added.
“So no, probably I will use that to take it in our advantage. And that’s it.”
Arsenal head to the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium next Thursday for the second time in a fortnight, having hosted the ‘home’ leg of their round of 32 win over Benfica in Piraeus.
Olympiacos were victorious over Arsenal at that stage of last season’s Europa League, progressing on away goals, and now have chance to stop Arteta’s side from reaching the quarter-finals this time around.
Adams tips Arsenal to sell duo
Tony Adams feels Arsenal will need to make some big decisions in the summer transfer window and possibly sell two members of their defence.
It has been a season of two halves for the Gunners in 2020-2021. From flirting with the relegation zone in mid December they have rallied to 10th.
But it has been far from a vintage campaign in north London. And one area of the pitch in particular appears to be causing concern for a club legend.
Adams, who made 672 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal, is not happy with their right-back options. Hector Bellerin has started 22 of the Gunners’ 26 top-flight games.
Manager Mikel Arteta seems to favour Bellerin but he has still been linked with a summer exit. Paris Saint Germain have been mentioned as a possible destination for the 25-year-old.
Adams would not mind if he or his team-mate left at the end of the campaign. And the 54-year-old has questioned whether the permanent signing of Cedric in June 2020 actually improved the squad. Read more…