Mikel Arteta has bemoaned UEFA’s tinkering with Tottenham’s Europa League last 16 fixture, as per the Independent.

Both Arsenal and Spurs return to Europa League action next week, against Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb respectively.

But because of a UEFA rule where both north London clubs can’t play on the same night – which is a security risk when fans are allowed at grounds – the legs of Tottenham’s tie have been swapped.

That means Spurs have an away game before the north London derby on 14 March, while Arsenal will travel to and from Greece.

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“It does (give Tottenham an edge ahead of the derby), but unfortunately it’s not going to change,” said Arteta.

“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’. Probably I will use that to our advantage (as a motivational tool). And that’s it.”

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Arteta’s approach here is a bit strange. He says he’s not going to use the fixture change as an excuse but he’s referencing it ten days before the game.

Will he be able to use it to motivate his players to avenge their 2-0 defeat from earlier this season?

He’ll hope so, as opposed to his squad viewing it as an excuse.

Arsenal also appear to be prioritising the Europa League over their league form, which could give Arteta some testing selection dilemmas for the game with Spurs not having to worry about travel taking it out of their players beforehand.

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