I’m a Premier League manager who did my coaching badges with Mikel Arteta – we’re still in the same WhatsApp group

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ROB EDWARDS takes on WhatsApp pal Mikel Arteta on Wednesday as he deals with the “biggest challenge” of his managerial career.

The Luton Town boss undertook his Uefa Pro Licence in Newport seven years ago and was on the same course as the Arsenal chief.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta did his coaching badges with Luton Town manager Rob Edwards

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta did his coaching badges with Luton Town manager Rob EdwardsCredit: X
The Luton manager is pictured behind Arsenal gaffer Arteta in the snap

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The Luton manager is pictured behind Arsenal gaffer Arteta in the snapCredit: X
Edwards will face his former classmate Arteta and Arsenal on Wednesday

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Edwards will face his former classmate Arteta and Arsenal on WednesdayCredit: Alamy
Edwards isn't surprised by Arteta's success with Arsenal

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Edwards isn’t surprised by Arteta’s success with ArsenalCredit: Rex

Other classmates included Gunners hero Thierry Henry as well as Liverpool assistant Pepijn Lijnders and Mike Flynn, the ex-Newport and Swindon boss.

The graduates have all stayed in contact via mobile phone group chat – but do not expect any goodwill messages when the Hatters travel to the Emirates for a crunch Premier League tie.

Edwards, 41, said: “Mike and I did our Pro Licence together. He was always going to go on to top things.

“He’s going to be one of the best, it looks like, for a long, long time.

“We’re still all in a group chat from that Pro Licence, which is nice.

“So when people achieve something or go into a new role, it’s nice to see best wishes from other people that are on there. It’s nice to keep in touch a little bit from afar.

“After his incredible playing career, it looks like Mikel is going on to have maybe an even more successful managerial career.”

Injuries have ripped through the Luton Town first team and Edwards has major fitness concerns over Alfie Doughty, Reece Burke and Tahith Chong, who were subbed off in the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham.

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There is the prospect that the Bedfordshire battlers will have, in total, “11-12-13 players out” depending on how training went on Tuesday.

There could be four teenagers on the bench in North London as Luton look to end a streak of 10 matches without a win in all competitions.

I hated playing against Arsenal Invincible, he’d pinch me and stand on my toes, I only spoke to him to abuse him

Edwards is a decent bloke and very optimistic but even he knows the task at hand is extremely tough.

The former Wales and Wolves centre-back said: “It’s where we are at. It’s the biggest challenge I’ve ever had.

“Aside from a real serious incident that we had with our captain, it’s the most difficult and challenging period I’ve ever faced. I’ve never known anything like it.

“We are coming up against the best teams in the world in this period.

“Speaking honestly, to be competing the way we did, especially on Saturday against a top team in Tottenham, we’re doing pretty well.

“To be as depleted as we are, the lads have given everything, it’s been brilliant.

“But it’s hard to be your best when you have so many key players missing.

“We are aware of the size and scale of the task. Arsenal can score at any moment, we have to be very good at every aspect of the game.

‘Must be perfect’

“If we are to stop them, we almost have to be perfect. We have to embrace the challenge – but I want to be in the Premier League forever.

“I don’t want us to say, ‘Ah, let’s enjoy this, one year and then off we go again’. This is where we feel comfortable and we’re competing. We want to make it the norm.”

Luton were defeated 4-3 at Kenilworth Road last December when £105million man Declan Rice scored a headed winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Edwards added: “From the outside looking in, when you think really about it, you’d go, ‘It’s a chasm’.

“For us in most games so far this season, we have tried to keep that chasm small and tight. The lads do deserve a lot of credit for that.

“There are eight more games to go. We have to keep doing that.

“People understand that we are down to the bare bones at the moment.”



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I’m a Premier League manager who did my coaching badges with Mikel Arteta – we’re still in the same WhatsApp group

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