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'It's a great story' - Mikel Arteta pays tribute to Filippo Giovagnoli as Arsenal prepare to welcome Dundalk

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Photo: PA

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Photo: PA

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Photo: PA

Mikel Arteta has said the rise of his opposite number at Dundalk, Filippo Giovagnoli, is a 'great story' that should give encouragement to coaches everywhere.

The Arsenal manager will welcome Giovagnoli's side to the Emirates Stadium tomorrow for a Europa League group stage encounter that brings together two clubs that operate at very different levels.

Giovagnoli's story has captured the imagination of Arteta with the Spaniard saying today that he had done his research on the Italian and learned that the 49-year-old hadn't managed at senior level before leaving his academy job in New York to take over the League of Ireland champions in August - a shock appointment that has now brought the rookie into elite territory in Europe.

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Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli. Photo: Sportsfile

Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli. Photo: Sportsfile

Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli. Photo: Sportsfile

"I think it's a great story," said Arteta, ahead of Arsenal's first ever competitive meeting with a League of Ireland side.

"Linking different backgrounds and different countries into that history is a good one to hear.

"I read a very long interview of his because I wanted to know who he is, what he is trying to do and what he is trying to express to his players and this is how I found out about what happened (his back story).

"Straight away, he said that he could feel that the players believed in what they were doing which is everything that a coach wants. I think they have created a really good chemistry. It's big merit to them for the work they are doing."

Arteta said he will give full respect to their opponents tomorrow, with Irish members of the Arsenal staff, including his lead strength and conditioning coach Barry Solan (a Mayo native) giving him a heads up on what he might expect.

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"I've been told a lot of positive things about them," said Arteta.

"What I've seen is a really determined coach and you can see in every reaction of how they are playing, how united they are.

"They are really well organised. They fight really hard and they will be coming here with an incredible passion as the underdogs

"I will give them a lot of energy and I will expect them tomorrow to be full gas trying to beat us here.

"In the games against Molde (last Thursday's 2-1 defeat) you can see straight away how much belief they have in what they do.

"There are a few bits where they look really dangerous but the context against us in the same situation is a little bit complicated.

"But, yes, any team you allow them time and space will create issues. They are really strong on set pieces as well and I am sure they will prepare them for tomorrow so we have to control the normal aspects that we do every week.

"This is football and I've seen a lot of things in this game so I don't take anything for granted. I always expect the opponent to be at their best and after that to convince my players on what we have to do to win that game and execute it in the best possible way and we will wait to see what happens tomorrow."

Arteta has a central defensive crisis and confirmed that David Luiz will sit out the fixture through injury.

However, Brazilian midfielder Willian is expected to be fit to play a part at some stage and injury doubt Bukayo Saka is also back training but Arteta said he will need to be careful with Sunday's clash with Manchester United in mind - especially when it comes to his defensive area.

The wellbeing of Luiz's fellow Brazilian Gabriel and the German Shkodran Mustafi is particularly important to Arteta at this moment in time


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