Whilst many of us look forward to at least a day or two off over Christmas, professional footballers generally have to take part in training over the holidays.
With the Boxing Day fixtures on December 26th, players are often required to go in for a session on Christmas Day.
Mikel Arteta told a press conference on Friday that he’s actually a fan of the busy festive period of fixtures, not least because it allows him to invite family over. But he also revealed that the squad would have Christmas off this year.
“I really like it,” Arteta said of the festive fixture list. “It gives us the opportunity to bring family over. When I was in Spain, it was a bit different. I’ve had incredible memories when I was a player and right now, as a manager as well.
“This year is very rare because we’re going to have the 24th and the 25th without a training session, which is extremely bizarre.
“But it will be good to spend time with my family. I have young kids and they are super excited about Christmas.”
The reason the team are able to have Christmas off this year is that their fixtures are a bit more spread out around the 25th.
The Gunners will play against Liverpool on the 23rd, which would make the 24th a guaranteed day off anyway. Then they don’t play again until the match against West Ham United on the 28th, which allows the team to have another day off on Christmas Day.
The squad better make the most of it, because this kind of opportunity won’t come around very often during their playing careers.
From a sporting point of view, it can’t be a bad thing for the Arsenal players to have a bit of stress relief with a proper Christmas celebration, even if it is only for a couple of days.