Press conference

Arteta on Aston Villa, Ozil and more: transcript

Mikel Arteta was back in front of the press on Monday ahead of our Premier League clash at Aston Villa.

Our head coach discussed a range of issues, including the FA Cup final, Shkodran Mustafi, Mesut Ozil and more.
 
Here's a full transcript:
 
on knowing we'll face Chelsea in the Heads Up FA Cup final...
Well, I was interested to see how they were going to play and obviously the formation and players that they picked. It was a really good game with very different moments, I believe. The scoreline... I don't know if it exactly reflects what happened but obviously what is very clear is that we are going to face a very difficult opponent in the final.

on facing Aston Villa and the fact they have to fight for survival...
Absolutely. They have a massive urgency because they probably have to win both games to have a chance to survive. When you are in that situation you are fighting for your life, so they are going to give absolutely everything. We have to be in the same mood. We still have to win both games and wait to have a chance to qualify for Europe and that's the mood that I want from everybody involved.

on the team's availability...
We are assessing Mustafi after he had to come off, because he felt something in his hamstring. So we have to see how he is in the next few days. The rest are okay. We will get Eddie Nketiah back from suspension and Cedric back because he was cup-tied and the rest, I don't know. I have to see them today and see how they recover because they played a lot of minutes in the last few games and I'll pick the team again that can go and beat Villa.

on whether he has confidence that Mustafi's injury is only minor...
We don't know. Obviously everybody was with heavy legs and tiredness and everything, but he had to come off. For Musti to come off, that's not very usual that he has to come off when he's not injured. We will have to see today and get the news from the doctor.

on how he's feeling ahead of the final two league games...
I wanted to get to this point with options and clearly, we have options. It's not in our hands at the moment and we knew that was going to be difficult, but we need to give it a go and try to win both games and then wait and see what happens. If we do that, I think we will have a good chance.

on whether the cup final will impact on squad rotation...
We've been changing quite a lot in the last few games because the schedule that we had was pretty hectic and because everybody has been training so well and very involved. They needed opportunities and they're making me doubt all the time because they are performing well.

on whether Mesut Ozil is likely to play against Aston Villa...
Mesut is training at the moment.

on whether that means he is likely to be involved...
Like every player that is training.

on being unclear on whether Ozil will be involved...
Because I have to pick from 23 or 24 players to do the squad. I will do that this afternoon.
 
on David Luiz and Granit Xhaka's turnaround…
They are two players that are worth spending time with and giving confidence, because I know how professional they are, how much they want to be successful at this football club and how much they care. Sometimes when they react or they have difficulties, they really suffer and when that happens, they deserve support and back up. They are showing from their performances that they deserve to be here and you can see how they fight for the club.

on how open Granit Xhaka was to adapting his game…
The challenge with Granit was to convince him that there was still a place for him here, that I had big belief in him and that things can turn around pretty quickly in this industry. He had to send the right messages, first of all he had to believe that he could do it and if that was the case we were going to support him all the way through. I am really glad to hear and sense as well the reaction from the fans towards him. I think they can appreciate what he has done, that's in the past and there's a lot of positives to take from difficult situations. We all learn from that and I think he is a really good example for any player that is in a difficult moment... If you are willing and if you are consistent and you really want to do it there is always a way back.

on Aston Villa…
In my opinion, they have been very unlucky in a lot of games. It's a team that wants to play football, that makes it really difficult for their opponent when they have the ball. I think the fans not being in the ground, which is one of my favourites in England, is a big disadvantage for them.We really need to be careful that they are alive and you can see that in the last few games that I've watched of them. We better be ready.

on how far can we go if the players stick to the direction we're going...
All credit goes to the players for the way they've been performing and the way they've been believing in what we are trying to do. Obviously this is a marathon, this is a long-term thing that has to be played and you have to do it consistently for 10 months. It's not good enough to just do it for a week so we haven't done anything, just won two games that give us a big plus in the league and the sense that if we are all doing our best we can beat any team but now we have to be consistent and do it every three days.

on if he needs financial backing in the summer like Chelsea have been…
First of all I think Frank is doing a really good job, he took a difficult situation after the ban that they had and obviously that context is different to ours. I am happy to see him do so well and I look forward to facing him in the final and I know the challenge will be difficult for both. I am very happy with the environment that I've had, with the communication that I have with the people at the club and with the plan we are putting together.
 
on whether he gets nervous watching us play from the back...
No. I get nervous when we kick the ball long. The quicker it goes there, the quicker it comes back. I'd rather do that with the right structure, the right timing and using the right spaces. It's something that we have to do more often.
 
on what Kieran Tierney is like to manage...
I think I can talk for all the staff when I say we are delighted with him. He's a joy of a kid. He's always willing to do more, he always wants to train harder, he wants to push himself more. He had some difficult moments since he joined but hopefully he feels [settled]. We really like him and we really support him. I really appreciate everything he's done since we joined. For me, he's a player who is a really good role model for any other player in the squad.
 
on whether it helps to have less on the Villa game than them...
I don't want that mindset, I'm sorry. It does matter to us and a lot because I want to win ball games like they do, and I want to play football with that urgency and aggression in our game.
 
on whether Auba needs to sign his contract before the final so we can plan for transfers...
When I was talking about the uncertain things that we have on the table, obviously he's one of them. There is another one obviously of where we are going to finish and whether we're going to be playing in Europe or not, which is going to have an impact. Then all these situations with the market, how it's going to develop. With Auba, I think I've been very clear with what I want. The quicker we do it, for me personally, the better because the player will be more focused, more determined and more calm. But we have to respect the timings as well and the needs of the football club.
 
on if there is a way back for Ozil and Guendouzi with 'willingness and consistency'...
That applies for any player and any member of the staff. All players know this. If you show that, that you decide to do the best not only for yourself but for the team and for the club, I think everyone will welcome you. It's not just me that needs to give the green light, it's everybody that has to be supportive. You need to feel that support from everybody because otherwise it's a very uncomfortable situation.
 
on whether Granit has benefitted from playing without crowds...
Well obviously you talk after the incident that happened and you are completely right. Afterwards, when I joined and we had the crowds, I didn't sense any individual reaction towards him. I think the crowd started to be much more positive. But I don't know, it's more a question for him. But he's someone I think who can handle any situation. I don't know, good question!
 
on Olivier Giroud and whether he'd still like to have him here...
He's playing well. He's a real handful. I know Olivier and how dangerous it is every time the ball is around the box. He's scoring a lot of goals at the moment. He's earned his place in the team. I'm happy for him as well because I know him well and he's such a great character.
 
on Santi Cazorla and the possibility of returning as a coach...
My opinion of Santi cannot be any higher. Personally, first, with the type of person he is and what he brings to that dressing room, but then also as a player for what he did throughout his career. About the coaching role and the future, we will see what happens. Right now, he's just finished [at Villarreal] so let him enjoy that moment and we'll see what happens in the future.
 
on whether he's had a discussion with Santi about a role here...
Not yet.

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