Press conference

Arteta on Norwich, Nketiah, Pepe, Lacazette

It was an early press conference for Mikel Arteta on Wednesday morning ahead of the Boxing Day game at Norwich.

The boss discussed Eddie Nketiah, player welfare, Nicolas Pepe and more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on whether Eddie Nketiah getting more chances due to the Auba situation…

With the way he’s performing and training, he deserves more minutes. That is the way I would like to respond that question, regardless of what happens with any other player.

on whether Auba could come back soon...

We will go game by game and decide the squad as we get closer to the game.

on how many players are coming through the academy...

I am delighted but that is down to all the work that has been in the academy and at the club over many years and this is the fruit of that work. Now it is about finding the right moments too give opportunities to these kids and finding the space in the squad to be able to do that.

on what he's learnt about himself in his two years in charge...

That this is much more complicated than it looks, much more unpredictable than it looks! But I love and am completely passionate about what I do, I feel privileged and very lucky to be where I am and I try to enjoy it as much as I can. It is a lot of pressure and a lot of decisions to make, but at the same time it is priceless to be here.

on how close the side is to being where he wants them to be...

I don't know, because we are halfway through the season and unfortunately the season ends in May and there is still a lot of things to do. There are still a lot of things we need to get much b better at, to improve but I think the team is going in the right direction, that is the feeling that I have.

on the team news ahead of Norwich...

We didn't pick up any injuries yesterday, obviously before the game we lost Calum with Covid. We are tested every day and we will see how it goes, touch wood.

on how he would feel about football going behind closed doors...

Please don't go back to that stage, because we have experienced that and it's something we don't like so hopefully it's not what happens.

on why he doesn't like it...

Because it's a different sport. Football is all about sharing it with people and having fans around the stadiums and when it is not, it is a completely different sport and the competition gets lost. It is not the same.

on whether Norwich's performances have been better than results suggest...

Absolutely, I think they deserve much more from many, many games - in recent games as well. Under Dean [Smith] they deserve better results and they haven't got them and we know at their place it will be a really difficult game, if the crowd is there as well you know how special it is on Boxing Day so we expect a tough match.

on Eddie Nketiah...

We are trying really hard to do the best that we can. Obviously, the contract has an expiry date and you cannot control that and we have had discussions with Eddie for a long time. I repeat again that his genuine intention is that he wants to play football and that's the thing that is driving whatever decision he's going to take for his future and you have to respect that. Obviously, he's a player that we admire and that we want to keep, that has come through the system and we will continue to do our best to keep him because we want him to be part of our project and the club.

on if he's been badly advised...

We try to give all the advice that we can and then he and his people will make the best decision for his future and that's where we stand at the moment.

on if Aubameyang is in contention against Norwich...

What I said is that we make the squad the day before and today, as it's still Wednesday, I haven't done the squad.

on if he's available...

Because before we did the press conference on matchday minus one, that's why I can do it. On matchday minus one I can tell you.

on if he just needs to apologise...

I think we have shown in this club that everybody can make mistakes or can have different ways of thinking or acting. I'm completely open to that and it's not about that.

on Alex Lacazette...

We are really happy. The way he's performing, the way he's acting and he has to continue like this.

on a possible COVID break...

The clubs have decided and that's the decision that they've made, so we have to carry on. Obviously, we had a preference of what we wanted to do because of the schedule and because of the situation that we are in, but it didn't stop so now we have to play, if we can, every single match with no recovery and with less numbers, but we will try to do our best.

on what he will be saying to the other managers in the league...

First of all I will be listening to why they are making these decisions. We are protecting the welfare of our players, which is the main thing in my opinion, and we are responsible to defend them more than anybody else. Then if that's the case then OK, make a strong argument and then respect the decision that's been made because at this point, we cannot change them.

on Jordan Henderson's comments this morning on player welfare...

I don't have to agree or disagree. I think we have to listen to them. There are two protagonists here, one is the players, and the other is the supporters. Without the players, we can do nothing, so we have to really listen to the players because they are the ones that have to be there. It is easy for us to be there and demand and they're the ones that have to perform and they have to do it and the same with the fans. This industry wouldn't work without any of those two, so I think we have to listen much more to our players.

on if the players say no...

What I would say is that if the players are saying that then it's genuine because they've never done it. They've always tried to carry on and try to get this league at the highest standard, and when they start to say something like that, I think we have to really really listen with open ears because we don't want to damage the product and the incredible league that we have.

on our turnaround this season…

It’s the beautiful part of it (going from bottom to the top four) and fans have to know that this changes quickly and there’s still a long way to go in this and we’re preparing to finish as high as we can.

on playing behind closed doors again…

We will play like we have to play, what I’m saying is that obviously nobody wants to go back to where we were because we’ve already experienced it and it’s not something we enjoyed a lot, but if we have to carry on doing that, of course, we will.

on Patino getting more chances because of the African Cup of Nations…

Charlie is with us more and more in training sessions, yesterday was his first competitive match which was a beautiful day for him and everybody involved in the club and we’ll go slowly from there. If we need him, we’ll use him, if the numbers are quiet and we have to throw him in there when we believe he’s ready and he’s making the right steps and we’re really happy with where we are.

on if Pepe has been happy without minutes…

A player that doesn’t play, if he’s happy you have a big problem and Nico has not been happy, he’s been trying to challenge us and asking us for more minutes because this is what he wants to do and rightly so and this is the attitude that we want from our players.

on if Leno has discussed his future…

No, the situation now is that Aaron has been starting the matches in the Premier League and he’s been outstanding, Bernd had the chance to play yesterday and he had a really good game and that’s the situation that every single player has in any team in football when somebody else is playing, you are not playing as much and if not, you have to play a different sport.

on 10 players who started his first game in charge no longer being here…

Probably, (it shows how extensive the project is) it’s been an incredible amount of turnaround in players in the last two seasons, much more than we wished or hoped for, but it is what it is and we try to make all the right decisions, sometimes right, sometimes wrong and we’ll continue to do that in the best interests of the club and to get a better team, better performances and better results.

on what he’s most proud of after two years in charge…

I’m most proud of the atmosphere, the environment and the culture we have around the club and the sense of unity that we have from everybody who works at the club and the sense of unity that we have with our supporters that I think has come a long, long way.

on what he wishes he would have done differently…

I think I have made a lot of mistakes for sure in this period, I would have time to reflect on that, but I don’t know, I wish I had six trophies here next to me because that’s what this club deserves!

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