The manager of Arsenal football club, Mikel Arteta is not a happy man over the decision of UEFA to give Tottenham Hotspur a home fixture while Arsenal got an away fixture in the Europa League round of 16.
Initially, when the draws for the Europa League round of 16 were made, Tottenham Hotspur were scheduled to play against Dinamo Zagreb away from home on March 11. While Arsenal were scheduled to play against Olympiacos away from home on the same day.
But since UEFA’s rule is against two clubs from the same city playing away from home on the same day, UEFA had to swap that of Tottenham, which means that Spurs will play at home instead of away on March 11. While Arsenal’s fixture remains as it was.
UEFA decided to leave Arsenal’s fixture the way it was because of the club’s rank as the reigning champions of the FA Cup, a consideration that did not please coach Mikel Arteta.
Mikel Arteta argued that the rearranged fixture favored Tottenham Hotspur because Arsenal will have to travel miles away to play Olympiacos on March 11 and return to London to play against Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium on March 14.
On the other hand, Tottenham Hotspur will play against Dinamo Zagreb at Tottenham Hotspur stadium on March 11 and then cross to the neighboring Emirates Stadium to play Arsenal in the Premier League on March 14.
This means that Tottenham Hotspur that currently sit on the 8th spot on the league table will have more time to rest after the Europa League match before taken on the 10th placed Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta believes that this is an undue advantage to Tottenham and wished UEFA didn’t have to swap the fixtures to favor their London rivals especially ahead of an important league game involving the two teams.
“But unfortunately it’s not going to change,” Mikel Arteta noted. “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.
“I don’t want to use one bit of excuse going towards that game saying, ‘oh, they have an advantage’.
“So no, probably I will use that to take it to our advantage. And that’s it.”
Arsenal’s next league game is away against Burnley on Saturday, March 6. Afterward, they will travel to Greece to play Olympiacos in the Europa League on March 11 and then return to the Emirates Stadium to take on Tottenham Hotspur.
While Spurs will be on duty later today, March 4, at 19:00, away against Fulham. Afterward, they will host Crystal Palace on Sunday, March 7; host Dinamo Zagreb on March 11, before taken on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on March 14.