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Sport Arteta: Courage needed at Olympiakos

22:50  19 february  2020
22:50  19 february  2020 Source:   skysports.com

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a lot of smoke around it: Olympiakos have only lost once at home in all competitions this season © Getty Olympiakos have only lost once at home in all competitions this season

Mikel Arteta has challenged his Arsenal players to rise above the heated atmosphere expected to greet them when they take on Olympiakos on Thursday in the Europa League.

Arteta's side play the Greek champions in the first leg of their round of 32 tie at a sold-out Karaiskakis Stadium - a notoriously difficult place for opposing teams to play.

But the Spaniard is confident his younger players can handle a hostile environment and wants to see the same reaction regardless of their inexperience.

a close up of Mikel Arteta: Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wants his side to be brave in Athens © Getty Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wants his side to be brave in Athens

"It is part of the process," he said. "You don't know until you expose them [young players]. They can have the best intention but they need to go to a stadium like here and when they make a mistake or a bad decision, have the courage to try again and play again.

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"And I want to see that in my players, whether they are 17 or 35. That's what I expect from them. If they keep trying, they have my full support.

"If they hide after that, I don't like it. But what I've seen up to now, every time they play on that field they are responding really, really well. That's what I am hoping and I am sure they will do it tomorrow."

While squad rotation in the Europa League has been the order of the day under previous managers Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery, Arteta suggested he make take a different approach.

Arsenal lost to London rivals Chelsea in the final last year and may need to win the competition this time around to return to the Champions League, given they currently sit 10th in the Premier League.

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Asked about the intensity of playing Premier League and Europa League games and a potential need to rest players, Arteta added: "That's why we have a big squad and we can rotate the players. But physically in Europe, the game won't be any more demanding than in the Premier League, that's for sure.

a group of fabric: Olympiakos have sold out for Thursday's Europa League match against Arsenal © Getty Olympiakos have sold out for Thursday's Europa League match against Arsenal

"If they have to do that every three days, it can be an issue but as well we have to try to adapt and choose the players that can perform in each game.

"We had a break of 15 days. We played just one game so tomorrow I'm going to send out a team that I think is the best to play. The rest of the game will take care of itself.

"So tomorrow we will send out a team that we think is the best to beat Olympiakos and the rest of the teams after that will take care of themselves."

Mesut Ozil has been left out of Arsenal's squad in Athens for personal reasons but French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi returns to the squad after missing out on Sunday's 4-0 home win against Newcastle.

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