Press conference

Arteta on Watford, Tomiyasu, top four: transcript

Mikel Arteta was back in front of the media at London Colney on Friday as he previewed our Premier League match at Watford.

The boss discussed the latest team news, the fight for the top four, Thomas Partey and more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on the latest team news...

We are in the same place as last week, we still have a doubt over Tomiyasu but the rest I think are in a good place.

on Ismaila Sarr being a doubt for Watford…

He’s been a big threat for them that’s for sure, but I think they have other qualities, other strengths that they can cause [us] issues and problems and I’m expecting out to be a really difficult game.

on Roy Hodgson…

I didn’t expect to do that again because last time I almost said a real goodbye but he’s decided to come back and it tells you about the person, how much he loves the game, how much he needs this game and I think it’s great to have him back.

on if it surprised him that Hodgson came back…

Absolutely because the last time I spoke with him, he sounded pretty convinced [to retire] and looking at his trajectory and everywhere he has been, I thought, ‘Okay, he’s done and he’s going to spend some time with his family.’ But that’s the beautiful thing about this game that you just need it to live.

on if Ramsdale is one of the signings of the season...

I would say that any of my players can get that award but obviously there is no question about how Aaron is performing, what he has brought to the team and how quickly he's adapted to what he's transmitting every time he is on the field. Hopefully he can get a prize but there are still a lot of games to play.

on Watford's resilience...

Roy is extremely good at doing that and getting the team in the same mindset  and working really hard, and making the team really compact and hard to beat, that's for sure. The quality he has, he has more experience than anyone in this league to do that, how to mould the team, how to take the team where he wants and he is exceptional on that.

on improving our own resilience...

I think it's very related to belief and trust - and when you have the willingness those players have to be successful and to play the game we want to play, how much they like to interact and play with each other: that is where everything starts to flourish. At the end, the consequence of that is probably the resilience you are mentioning as well. That has to be built and to do that you need good experiences as well, and good experiences help the belief to do it again, you are more confident, you know how to resolve certain issues when they appear on the pitch and it's good because it was very much needed in those games to win the matches.

on being favourites for fourth place...

I don't know, I think it's positive because we want to be playing and the reality is that we are not fourth, we are sixth still and if we win those games - and we have to win those games - we know what we have to do to get there. It is a long way to go, to focus and the only aim is to win against Watford.

on Roy Hodgson managing teams since before he was born...

I don't know. When you tell me that it's just incredible how long he's been going and how he's managed to balance his life in a way which has that much space for football and have a managerial career that has so many things implicit on that. It basically sucks your life out and you know he looks healthy, he looks good, I don't know. He's a person that I really admire and I think he's a great example for any coach to spend some time with him.

on the job...

It's a great job. It's a passionate job with the interaction and it's spending time with people and building a team and the energy that that creates around it, the connection that you have to build with the club and with the supporters is everything. It has a lot of implications but there are a lot of decisions that you have to make and imagine the decisions that Roy has to make in the last 35 or 40 years. It's just phenomenal.

on being next door with Watford players...

Well, I had some friends from my time there and it's very easy because after training you just crash into each other with your cars. I think it's great. I think that relationship should be stronger and stronger and for example, Edu has done some work on that to build those relationships because we are close I think we can help each other in many ways as well. I think it's a possible thing.

on if he would invite Roy round for a coffee...

One hundred per cent. I can walk there, no problem.

on where the coffee is better, Arsenal or Watford...

It depends on who makes it .

on how hard Watford will be to beat under Roy Hodgson...

Very solid, very organised, very clear in how they want to approach the match and what they want to take from the match. We have to obviously do what we have planned and take the game in a completely different direction and that will be the challenge. It's a great stadium with a great atmosphere, everything is tight and you know what you're going to experience there.

on why he was confident good things were coming for Arsenal...

We have great people and very good players and I think that combination at the end, when everyone is on board, has to have a good outcome and I believe in that and I still believe in that today.

on Ben White...

He's had a brilliant season. I think again what he's done, how quickly he's adapted, how quickly he's been able to handle the pressure with the number that he's wearing, with the price that we paid, with what we demand him to do. Straight away at his age, he's been great.

on if anyone has apologised to him for previous decisions...

We are always in touch with them. It's great because after the match we can all be honest and you get the replies that you want but we cannot affect the game.

on if he’s had a personal phone call from the PGMOL…

No.

on what our improved relationship with Watford could look like…

It depends. At least open the relationships and explore possibilities that we can have with our players, with their players. They’re next door and we can compete against each other, but at the same time, I think it’s important to have good relationships and that’s the case, I think.

on what he will be doing at 74 years old…

I don’t know. If you had told me what my life would be like 10 years ago, I probably would get all the answers wrong, so I don’t know. If I’m as healthy and as happy and with what Roy’s done in the game, I think I can stand here today.

on if more time on the training pitch has helped our form…

It was like that for many reasons because we had to play Chelsea and they have the World Club Cup, Liverpool in the FA Cup, the space that we had there, we have tried to maximise the situation that we have in the best possible way and so far it’s been good.

on if the players have reacted positively to more training time…

So far, yes. I’m not sure if they can sustain that!

on Thomas Partey’s good form…

I think when you are honest with yourself it’s a great starting point and when you assess yourself in the way that Thomas did publicly, it’s a really rare thing to do. He did it because he believed that was the case, that he wants to give much more to the team and to the club and probably that something has clicked again, probably the fact that he’s been injury-free, it’s a massive thing in there, but as well he’s probably more fit because he’s doing things better.

on if he’s noticed an improvement in Thomas’ form…

Yes.

on if Thomas practices his shooting…

He is practising and some of the goals he scores in training you would be amazed! You won’t believe me probably, so you will have to see one of those soon going into the net.

on the fans planning to wear yellow and blue to show support to Ukraine…

I will support any initiative that is to demonstrate that we have to live in peace and if that’s the case and they believe that it is the right thing to do, of course I will support it.

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