Mikel Arteta has given his players a few days off before the squad reassemble on Thursday in Dubai for a warm weather training camp. He says of this Winterlull:
It’s good to go away. The players have been through a lot. The last two or three months have been tough for them so I want to give them a few days off.
I suspect that in general sympathy for them and how ‘tough’ it’s been will be in short supply, given our league position, our results, and the contribution of some which hasn’t been quite at the level we might like. However, as much as we look at players as robotic performers of whom much is demanded, I think we have to remember they are human and that it probably has been quite difficult for them.
It’s not to excuse them in any way, but a season which began positively quickly turned bad, then worse, then worse again. A situation with a lame duck, dead-man walking manager was allowed to fester by those on high for far too long, and the performances Unai Emery was producing were among the worst we’ve seen at this club for years. I still have flashbacks to that away day at Watford – a game which is etched indelibly into my mind due to its awfulness and…