Press conference

Arteta on Leicester, Lacazette, transfer targets

Mikel Arteta was back in front of the media on Friday to preview our Premier League match against Leicester.

The boss discussed the latest team news, Gabriel Martinelli, Alex Lacazette, our summer transfer approach and more.

Read on for the full transcript:

on the latest team news…

Not many changes, Tomiyasu we are still assessing him because we are taking some time to try to protect him and get him in the best and the safest possible way so he can help the team as quick as possible. At the minute it looks like Emile's going to be available.

on whether Lacazette is okay to face Leicester...

Yes, I hope so!

on the situation at Chelsea and how Thomas Tuchel has handled it...

It's an extremely difficult situation to manage and I think he will manage it in the best possible way with the integrity that Thomas has always shown and just try not to get too involved as he already mentioned.

on whether we are favourites to get top four and could even get third...

I don't know, the only matter for me is how we train tomorrow and how we play on Sunday. The rest, this is football and its so unpredictable: nobody knows what can happen. Our only focus is on performing and winning matches.

on our recent form showing something is building here...

To be with the top teams you have to win consistently and do it in a convincing way. I need even more than that amount of victories [four in a row] because there are teams in this league who do that for 10, 11, 12 or 18 times so still the margin is pretty big.

on our summer transfer targets and whether they're influenced by where we finish...

There are two things: the amount of games that you have to play and the amount of players you need in the squad. The players you are losing or retaining in that squad, and then the [players] that are available, which playing in the European competitions changes a lot.

on Lacazette's contract situation...

Yeah, we have discussions as you know and at the end of the season, once we know where we are, we will make a decision all together. I don't want anyone to think about something else that is not that. The decision, we agreed, is to do it in the summer and we're going to do it as soon as the season is finished.

on the club launching a Ukraine Supporters' Club and donating to the Save the Children appeal...

That's great, that the club wants to show solidarity and wants to show we are all united, and even if we are not suffering the consequences at first hand - and it's impossible to even try to understand what is going [on for those living through it] - at least show that we care and show our solidarity and appreciation to the people who are suffering.

on what impressed him against Watford...

The way we played at times, how fluent and a threat we were in attacking moments and in the end what we had to suffer in the last few minutes because this is the Premier League and in the last few moments you concede a goal and you are just a goal ahead, anything can happen. We showed good composure and the ability to finish the game off.

on Leicester City’s form this season…

Well I agree that they’ve been much more consistent in terms of performances and results. It’s a team that has come a long, long way and I think Brendan [Rodgers] and the coaching staff have done exceptional work, they have a lot of injuries as well, I believe this season, plus the Covid issues that we’ve all been through, it’s a difficult mixture and it’s been difficult for all managers, but as you said, they’re now in a better moment.

on the top-four race…

I don’t see it because I want to focus on the game ahead and how we prepare well and the team is with the right mindset to transmit that and we can play in front of a real exciting crowd on Sunday that is going to drive the team, is going to push it and hopefully, we can give them the performance and result that they deserve.

on if Leicester’s league position is a surprise…

The competition in this league is incredibly tough and, again, there are injuries, there are performances, the amount of games, what we went through last year as well with the amount of games that we have to play, everything basically plays dividend at the end, but they are certainly a really good side.

on our impressive league form…

Yeah, it’s another step in showing consistency in terms of results, but I think you can only get that when you get the right performances and that’s what we are going to keep improving.

on Lacazette’s goalscoring record this season…

Well I think he’s been very close and that’s why we have to keep pushing him and giving him support that he plays with that confidence and hopefully on Sunday he can do it.

on whether Lacazette is happy to wait until the end of the season…

That’s a question for him, but obviously we have to make decisions and we made that decision to finalise that at the end of the season. That’s what we’re going to have to do.

on whether he felt Martinelli was ready to take Aubameyang’s place…

Well, Gabi is playing in a different position because Auba certainly in the last few months played as a nine, but Gabi has shown big signs of where he’s moving. Certainly the capacity that he has to score goals and be a threat in the final third and I think his contribution all around in his game has been exceptional. He totally deserves the amount of minutes that he’s been playing.

on whether Tierney hasn’t overlapped as much because of Xhaka’s more advanced positioning…

He has to overlap when there is a moment to overlap and he has to become unpredictable and efficient every time he’s in the final third in positions where his qualities can decide football matches. That’s what we have to try to do as much as possible.

on whether Tierney’s relationship with Xhaka and Martinelli is growing…

It’s growing because the more they experience match situations and training situations together, that chemistry and that understanding and those timings and those spaces will click more naturally, and I think this is happening.

on what he’s seen to make him comfortable to play Xhaka in a more advanced role than before…

I wouldn’t say that it would make comfortable, but sometimes you have to take players from their comfort zone and open a different door to explore how the team will react to it and what the opposition will do when you do certain things, and then it’s more unpredictable because if not, it becomes pretty easy to prepare the same thing against the same opposition.

on Smith Rowe’s current physical condition…

Well, he went through Covid but he’s feeling good now and he’s had a couple of training sessions. Hopefully he can get the rhythm and the consistency and stay out of missing games because he’s a really important player for us and we need him.

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