Press conference

Arteta on Aston Villa, the top four, England squad

Mikel Arteta faced the media on Friday to look ahead to our Premier League match against Aston Villa.

The boss discussed the early team news, bouncing back from defeat to Liverpool, the latest England squad and more.

Read on for the full transcript: 

on our latest team news update…

No news. Yesterday we just recovered after the game and today we will have our first training session, so we will see how everybody is today.

on whether Tomiyasu will be fit…

There is a chance, but we don’t know, again today in training we will see how he’s feeling.

on why he’s taken so long to get back to full fitness…

Because he had a reoccurring injury around the same place and then obviously after that you have to be a little more cautious sometimes.

on whether Emile Smith Rowe is fit to start…

He was fine again, he had a little issue before the game, but he’s been fine the past two days so hopefully now he can get some consistency and momentum.

on what he’s been able to do since Wednesday night…

We’ve tried to recover well, mentally and physically, rest well and sleep well. Yesterday we just spent time recovering and making sure that everyone is fit for training to get one day to prepare and be ready for tomorrow.

on whether he stands by his comments about the Premier League schedule…

I do because I’m talking about the Premier League and I heard some comments about when you’re in Europe it’s nothing new, it’s nothing new to me, but I’m not comparing Europe, I’m comparing the Premier League and how we’re scheduling games in the Premier League. When you’re in Europe it’s a different story, what I’m comparing is the Premier League and it’s very different.

on having another tight turnaround for Chelsea and Manchester United…

Yes, we’re the only team that’s been scheduled like that and I’m not talking again about Europe because some of those teams are not going to be involved in Europe.

on how it feels to have four players in the England squad…

Very happy, I’m really happy, especially for the boys because they deserve to be there. They work so hard and I know how much it means for them to represent their country, and as a club I think we have to be very proud that our players are in the frontline and being noticed. It’s been a long time since that happened so I think it’s a good sign.

on what he puts their call-ups down to…

Their efforts, how much they want it, obviously their quality, their ability, and then obviously what they’re doing performance wise to get the attention of the England manager.

on whether Aaron Ramsdale is the best goalkeeper in England…

He is there now and he’s going to be fighting for a place and knowing Aaron he’s going to be pushing very hard because it’s one his dreams, and then it will be down to the coaching staff and the manager to decide if he will be number one.

on how he’s reacted to conceding the goal…

Oddly he was gutted after the match. It’s normal because he’s such a competitive boy, but he needs to realise that this is going to happen in your career. At this stage, and if you play for the national team, probably you are going to have a moment when you do something, and then instead of some part of the country, it will be the whole country (on your back). If you want to be at the top for 10, 15 or 20 years you have to be prepared for that. It’s about how you react in those moments. 

on how he thinks he will react…

Top. He wants to be there the next day, he wants to go and practice. He wants to see it. He’s very critical of himself so sometimes he needs to have some help to put things into perspective, and for him to realise as well how much he has contributed to the team. 

on what a top-four finish would mean to Arsenal, and for him personally…

When we do it I will tell you! Because it still hasn’t happened. There are still 11 games left for us to play and a lot of things could happen, and that’s what we are playing for.

on four of the next five games being away from home, and how tough that will be…

Very, because every game in the Premier League is extremely difficult to win. We are going to be playing very difficult matches, like the rest of the teams. The thing is that we have some games in hand still. It’s not (simple) again, but performing like we did against Liverpool for the majority of the game. If we do that we will be close to winning (those) four matches.

on Aston Villa’s current form, and what he think of the work Gerrard is doing there…

Very good. They have had some positive results in the last few games. He’s changed the shape, he’s changed a few things that the team is doing. He’s brought a different energy again to that stadium I think. I’m impressed with what he’s doing. 

on Coutinho and if he’s the danger-man that we need to stop…

He’s one of them. Obviously the team activates a lot of things when he’s on the ball and he’s in dangerous areas. He’s contributed a lot when he’s in their attacking phase, so obviously it’s something that he need to bear in mind. 

on why he thinks he does so well in the Premier League…

His ability to create goals, and to create chances, and to unlock spaces when they don’t exist. That’s a quality that he had (and continues to have), when he was at Liverpool. 

on how well things have gone in recent months...

I think every decision we make as a club is obviously has a lot of thinking behind it, a lot of work and always thinking positively to the outcome that we want to achieve. It's always good to hear different opinions and people judging it early but you have to stay calm and believe in what you're doing and if you are clear and convinced in that after this is football and anything can happen. A player has to adapt, a player can be injured, a player can maybe not feel comfortable with what you ask him to do, it's a lot of varieties and things that are unknown before you get a player with you actually at the club, but we always try to do everything we can to think forward and imagine how the future will be with those players and I'm happy with them and it's been good.

on the coaching paying off for Ben White and Ramsdale...

Yeah, but it's down to the players. At the end the players have the quality, they have the mental strength, the ambition and those are things that were important at the beginning because you have those conversations with the players. It comes from them, what they want to achieve, what they want to be in the football world, how they think they can be helping our club to progress and with those two I was very, very convinced.

on Steven Gerrard...

He was a terrific player, really intelligent. He had everything. He had aggression, he had the quality, he had the goal threat, he had the leadership, the presence on the pitch, he was tough.

on if he'll be a good manager...

I think he's got on very, very well so far and what he did at Rangers I think it's remarkable and I don't know if he gets the credit that he should do because I've played there, I know how that club goes and how he turned it around and what he's done at Villa, so I think so far he's done really well.

on his managerial pathway...

I don't know how he thought about the opportunity, how they communicated with him, but for sure, I think it was a great experience.

on if television deals play a part in the schedule…

But there’s no question about that, they can do it, it’s good. They can do it, we have to accept it, I accept it. We’re going to be playing, that’s not a problem, it’s how can we do it to be more fair and to have equality in every game. Again, this is out of Europe, Europe is not counted here. All the Europe talk is out of this conversation, it’s nothing to do with Europe.

on why clubs have meetings with the Premier League…

Because the first thing is to protect the players and we mentioned that many times. Can we please avoid Wednesday night and Saturday morning and travelling and all those things. I understand that they have the commitments and it’s all for TV, we all understand that, and you can do it once, but don’t do it twice, because we still have to put the fixture of Spurs and for the third time are we going to be the only ones to do it? Then yeah, you can accept that, you just don’t want to be silly with it.

on if he has concerns over when the Tottenham game could be played…

Yes, because I don’t know and we are not going to be deciding and it’s going to be very important.

on if he’s held talks with the Premier League about it yet…

That’s nothing to do with me. The club has to arrange those conversations.

on if he will get a say in any talks with the Premier League…

Hopefully. I doubt it, but hopefully!

on if we were ever interested in Coutinho…

We looked at many different players with qualities that he obviously had and in the end, we went with a different option.

on if he had concerns about White’s price tag…

You always have concerns when you pay big sums of money because first of all you want to protect the club’s money and investments in the best possible way, because you want to maximise it the best possible way and bring potential and capacity to develop the team in the right way. You want players that can perform at the highest level and you always have doubts because they have to come here, they have to integrate they have to carry, for example, what you just mentioned on their shoulders and if it's the first time they’re going to do it, it’s not something they’ve already done, so if they don’t have any experience or it’s something new and you have to help them to go that path, that time and try to absorb everything new that is happening the best possible way so they can focus on getting the best out of them.

on the role that White has played in our record defending corners…

I think it’s the whole team. It’s the commitment that everybody has to have to fulfil their roles, the discipline that you should do it, to do it the way that we’ve done it and we want to maintain that and improve it.

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