Press conference

Arteta on Manchester United, Nketiah, the top four

Mikel Arteta faced the media ahead of our Premier League clash with Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The boss discussed the latest team news, Eddie Nketiah's future, the top-four race, the threat of Ralf Rangnick's side and more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on team news and Takehiro Tomiyasu…
If he trains today and he feels good then he will be available tomorrow yes.

on any fresh injuries…
No, we haven’t really trained. We had a recovery session yesterday and today we are training late in the stadium because obviously the turn around is again, what they did to us a few weeks ago, so the best way is to try to train as late as possible to be able to do something before the match

on knocking Manchester United out of top-four contention…
I think there are going to be a lot of twists still. That’s what we have to do, perform and play well tomorrow to deserve to win the match which I think will be difficult.

on Erik Ten Hag's appointment as Manchester United manager…
Yes, I think he’s been really good what he did a couple of years ago in the Champions League, especially the way his teams play. It’s a Man United decision, there’s nothing more to say. 

on the timing of the announcement…
For us no (impact), for them I don’t know what’s going to happen but for us nothing changes.

on Eddie Nketiah’s chances of playing on Saturday…
We will see. Let’s see how he recovers, how everybody is, and we will try to put the best possible team out to try to win the game.

on whether he wants to keep Eddie…
It’s what he does all the time, he hasn’t had enough minutes this season to show what he can do and that’s why I said what I said.

on changing a winning side…
It is hard, but fortunately that’s been the case in many weeks when had to pick others that have to step in and they’ve done well for the team because they always prepare well. That’s what we expect, that doesn’t mean we are always going to repeat the same line up. We have options to change and we have options to change again tomorrow and play in different ways.

on finishing in the top four…
I am very excited about the options we have ahead of us and we are going to give it a go, and try our best to try to reach that.

on assessing Manchester United against Liverpool…
I’m not here to assess anybody’s performance. I watched the game, it was an exceptional game. The first half especially, the way Liverpool played was outstanding. We all know how difficult it is to go to Anfield. They have really good moments in the season, they have exceptional players and they have the ability to beat any team.

on Bukayo Saka's penalty...
What it tells me is the moment that he had and the experience that he had is over and he learned from that and he is willing to take more responsibility and he's willing to take big decisions that can define big moments and that's what I want. As he says he's confident to take that step forward and what's important is that he is ready for the team to make that contribution.

on a change in energy since beating Chelsea...
After winning, a dressing room is much better than a losing one. When I have to analyse that energy obviously is [better] but what I'm proud about this team is how they behave when things are not going our way and when things become difficult and how willing everyone is to push the boat in the same direction.

on how the academy players have dealt with pressure...
That's because all of the work that a lot of coaches and a lot of people have made decisions to recruit our academy players in the past and that's a testament to a lot of work they have done so the compliments I think should be for them and for the players that they have stuck in a big match. I have said if you want to play in the Champions League you have to go to these stadiums and be able to win and it's rare but our three academy players scored and made a difference in the game.

on the fan-led tifo display for Saturday...
I am really pleased to hear all of those things because that initiative means that they are really engaged with the team and they want to show them they are with the team, that they want to participate and they feel like they are really participating in the success of the team and I've always said that if make this stadium a fortress it will be really difficult not to be successful. They have a big big part to play and hopefully tomorrow they can help us do that.

on turning Arsenal around...
Normally when you have to make that many changes, that many decisions that are tough and have been sitting there for a while it's pretty difficult for a manager to continue unless you are extremely successful, but we've done that together. It's not a decision that I have made myself, it's a decision that we have thought really carefully about the direction and ambition that we decided to implement at the club. That we knew there were risks but it was in our opinion the best way to move as fast as possible and in the most efficient way and then you need to have support and I have a great connection to Edu, with the board, with the ownership and that relationship is vital. Especially in this stage of our project because without it we don't have at the moment five world-class players that all the issues we have at the club are going to hide them every week because they are going to score hat-tricks here, we don't have that. So what we have to do is get exceptional people that are so connected with a very clear direction and ambition about what we want to do as a club. And as well our people believing in what we want to do, of course.

on the patience that Edu and the board have given him, and whether he can offer any advice to Manchester United’s new manager…
I cannot give any advice you know. I haven’t been (here) 25 years in a row, to give advice to anybody. I just try to do my job as good as possible and the rest have to try to do the same. 

on whether the best is yet to come from our young team…
No, I think the potential of individuals and the collective is much bigger. I hope! In terms of the quality, the consistency, the delivery the experience that they have. The amount of times they have played at a professional level. The amount of times they have been coached in the way that I want the team to play. To go through struggles, to go through pressure, to get to understand each other. They haven’t been playing together for a long time, and there are a lot of things that can be done much much better.

on the tragic news about Cristiano Ronaldo…
I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about something like that, because unless you experience it, you probably cannot be in the same level to express or to go through the pain that you should be feeling about it. At least what this country and this league have shown with what happened at Anfield the other day, I think is exceptional. That’s why sports should be leading on this, to find some unity at a human level that sometimes is missing. Yesterday was a great example and something to be really proud of, to be participating in a league where some clubs and some people are both in this sport and are able to show such a thing. 

on Alexandre Lacazette’s availability for tomorrow…
He trained yesterday and hopefully he will be feeling (better) today. So after Covid we have players that struggled for weeks, others that have recovered quicker. Let’s see, but obviously he’s a player that we need, contributing and being at his best. Hopefully he can recover quickly.

on Mohamed Elneny...
I will say that for me, he’s one of the most important players in the squad. For what he does when you give him the chance to play and for the things that he does when he doesn’t play. It’s a phenomenal person and then you have to judge the footballer as well that sometimes doesn’t get probably the credit that he deserves

on if he convinced him to stay last summer…
It was more in January than the summer and I think he understood with the squad that we had at that moment, that I could not let another player leave and it’s a tough balance because at the end, they are in a period in their career where they are looking to extend their football lives, but at the same time, I thought that he could be important for the team in the last part of the season

on if Elneny could sign a new deal…
It’s another one where we’re going to have another conversation at the end of the season and see what we do with that one as well.

on if he wants to keep him…
I am really happy with him, that’s what I can say.

on following in the footsteps of Arsene Wenger…
It does [cross my mind when taking the job], but it was tiny in comparison to the excitement and the opportunity that I saw to join this club and try to do what we all wanted to do, which is to get it back to where Arsene took it at the highest level and obviously that desire was much bigger than the worries of failure

on if he almost became manager straight after Arsene left…
It was close, but things happen for a reason and probably was too soon

on why he didn’t become our manager then…
Because there are people who made the decisions and they made a different decision

on if he turned the job down…
For me to turn down this club is extremely difficult and when you see it closely, there is something happening there that you just want to do it. But, again, they signed another exception coach that again is showing in Villarreal how good he was, but sometimes it’s not about the capacity of a person, it’s the capacity of the context that you showed or the team that it fits, if it’s the right moment or not the right moment, sometimes it’s not about the capacity, it’s about the timing.

on if it helped him not replacing Arsene straight away…
I don’t know. The thing is, the expectations of this club are going to be always the best because we’re going to compare all the time with the beautiful moments that we lived together here. There is no choice when is the perfect moment, I don’t know. What I’m saying is, do I really enjoy what I am doing and how we’re doing it? Yes, because I know what we can do, what our potential is and where we want to take it and the rest is just fear that you’re going to fail because you’re looking there, but you need to understand when you can get there. And especially how you can get there, and the how is clear, probably it’s a matter of time, but if you start to go there and try to find the how when you don’t have the tools to do it, I think you’re going to struggle.

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