Mikel Arteta’s family might be happy to see more of him this season, but the Arsenal boss is sick to the stomach of watching European football at home and is determined to get his side back competing there once again.
The Gunners head to Brighton on Saturday looking to maintain their recent improvement after beating rivals Tottenham to make it three-straight Premier League wins.
After finishing eighth and suffering defeat to Villarreal last season – under former Arsenal head coach Unai Emery in the semi-finals of the Europa League – Arteta’s squad have been left with plenty of extra time on their hands rather than gearing up for a hectic midweek schedule.
It is the first time since the 1994–95 campaign that Arsenal have not been involved in any European competition – a situation which Arteta is adamant will only be for the short-term.
“Maybe my family and my kids are happy because they see me more, but I want to be playing in Europe, to be competing there,” the Spaniard said.
“Every time I hear the Champions League music, my stomach hurts and it is not where we want to be. It is not something that I enjoy.
“We have to make the most out of it because we have more time during the week to prepare for the game at the weekend, but it is certainly not where we want to be.”
Arteta continued: “It gives you more possibilities and to plan a little bit more.
“We are trying to get use to that, to maximise the weeks as much as possible to get with the right freshness mentally and physically with the ideas we want to execute in games.”
Arsenal defender Ben White is in line to face his old club on Saturday, having left the Seagulls for a club-record sale in the region of £50million during the summer.
Arteta feels the 23-year-old has the potential to become one of the best.
“We bought him because we believe that he can be extraordinary,” the Arsenal boss said.
“He does not have that much experience in the league still, so he is not mature in that sense, but he has already shown his qualities and what he can do.
“The way he is adapting to us is impressive so the potential is there. It is how we can fulfil that and help him to do so.
“He knows that he is going to be asked questions and in this league for sure, because it is one of the most demanding positions, at the moment he is doing it.”
While White did not make the England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary, Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has been recalled.
Ramsdale, 23, has emerged as Arteta’s first choice following his move from Sheffield United ahead of the transfer deadline.
The future of former Gunners number One Bernd Leno remains uncertain, the German having been linked with a move away in January.
Arteta, though, stressed it should be very much business as usual for any player out of the side.
“(He should be) the same as he has been every single day,” the Arsenal boss said.
“To train the way he does, be the way and the person he is, the way he handles himself and tries to help the other keepers and the other keepers try to help him.
“It is what we always do, there is nothing different.”