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Emery to rotate team ahead of tough fixtures

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[FILE PHOTO] Arsenal’s Spanish coach Unai Emery gestures during the UEFA Europa League group E football match between Qarabag FK and Arsenal FC in Baku on October 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Alexander NEMENOV

Unai Emery admits he will have to shuffle his squad amid a demanding fixture list over the coming weeks, but says Arsenal’s popularity around the world means it is inevitable that the club will often find itself at odds with the fixture list.

Whilst the Premier League returns this week following the international break, the Gunners have to wait until today before they are in action again – with the home game against Leicester City having been moved for Sky Sports.

That is despite the fact that Arsenal are in Europa League action on Thursday night when they visit Sporting Lisbon, a game they fly out to Portugal for on Wednesday.

So that leaves them very little recovery time from the Leicester game and to make matters even more challenging, they are then in action again on Sunday lunchtime when they travel to Crystal Palace, having only returned from Lisbon in the early hours of Friday morning.

The demanding schedule is sure to give Emery some real selection headaches over the course of the week, but the Spaniard – who admits he will have to make changes – says he and his players simply must get on with it.

“We are a team with a very high level and with a very high demand for us,” said Emery. “The TV is very important. The TV is the target to choose the matches for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.

“With only three days difference between one match and another, we can do that with play and rest, we can do that with changing players. But if I decide to play with the same players on Monday, Thursday, Sunday, these players can’t do that.

“The mentality is to think like this then play, rest, and to prepare with another player to find our [best] performance in each match.

“But we want to play a lot of matches. We want to continue doing our way with different possibilities tactically with the players, but if we need to repeat a lot of matches with the [same] players, we can’t do that.”

Arsenal go into the Leicester game in good shape, with Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all back in full training after injury.

Sokratis does look set to miss out, however, after he suffered an ankle problem while in action for Greece during the international break.

A victory on Monday will make it 10 wins in a row in all competitions for Arsenal, but Emery knows his side will have to be at their very best to see off Leicester on Monday night.


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