Press conference

Arteta on David Luiz, Dundalk, Mustafi: transcript

Mikel Arteta was back in front of the media on Wednesday as he looked ahead to our Europa League clash against Dundalk.

Our manager discussed a range of issues, including our attacking play, David Luiz's fitness and more.

This is what he said:

on the performance against Leicester...
I think they were different halves. In the first half we interpreted really well what the game needed and we were very dominant, very aggressive, won the ball back in really good areas and didn't give the ball away in any dangerous areas. Apart from that we created enough chances for sure to go ahead on the score, we didn't manage to do that, we scored a goal that was disallowed and the second half we started, probably fatigue wise, to make more mistakes in more difficult areas and not be as effective as threatening as we should have been. The moment we created an open space, they had a good action and we conceded a goal. We lost the game from a very small margin and I am disappointed because we should have done better there.

on the lack of goals from Auba and Laca...
Well, from everybody because when we are at home and we're not able to score a goal, I am concerned. I am concerned about the second half, we should have done better, we only had the chance for Hector. They didn't have anything to be fair until after 75 or 80 minutes, but still it is something we have to improve in the final third, the solutions we have to give them to attack better, to be more continuous, to be able to sustain attacks in longer periods and put the ball in the box more. We have been working on that so hopefully we can improve it.

on whether David Luiz is out and whether Mustafi has been offered a new deal...
To the first, with David he is still having some discomfort in that area, Musti is completely fit to play and obviously the internal contractual situations will be discussed internally.

on how happy he is with Mustafi...
I have been really happy with Musti since I joined and the performances that he has had. It is true that he had a long-term injury, he has worked so hard to get back into the position he is today. I just want him to show again the trust we have him in, play him and get the performance we have had in the past from him.

on his confidence in Mustafi...
I think there were a few cases when we joined in that position and what we tried to do it is help the players as much as possible, encourage them to play with confidence and try to give the right solutions and then it is up to them to show with their performances where they are.

on the pressure of being expected to win...
Well the pressure is related to this football club that you have to win every game. We didn't win against Manchester City or Leicester, we lost 1-0 both games from very small margins and you can see the demands that everybody puts on us, which is the best thing because we are the club that we are and that should never change.

on whether he's concerned about not scoring and the role Nketiah has...
It is the role of everybody, first of all mine to give them the solutions and structure to attack better. Obviously this block and the way they set up is not easy at all, but we opened them up five or six times in the first half and should have scored a goal. It is something we are not too used to because we have not faced teams [like that] too regularly but I think it is a really good sign when Leicester suddenly comes to your house and acts like, it is because they really respect you now and they are concerned. We have to take that as something very positive and and as an advantage because if teams are going to start to do that, I'm telling you we are going to win a lot of games.

on the strength of the Premier League...
In the last eight to 10 months, the improvement of the teams in quality, organisation and the way they are competing... It's been the biggest I've seen in recent years. That's why you can see the difficulties of teams winning by big margins. I think in my opinion that's not a coincidence and you can see that in every Premier League game, so I think the league is in a great place at the moment.

on Mesut Ozil's social media activity during games...
I don't follow social media but I always expect everybody that is involved in our organisation to be supporting the team every time we play.

on Dundalk and what they'll offer...
We've got some Irish staff here and there are a lot of positive things about them. From what I've seen they've got a really determined coach that has found a really good cohesion with the team. You can see in every reaction when they are playing, how united they are. They're really well organised, they make it really hard and they will be coming here with incredible passion. They're underdogs and that will give them a lot of energy and I expect them to be at full gas tomorrow, trying to beat us here.

on if he's been talking to Barry Solan ahead of the game...
Yes, with a few of them.

on the story behind the appointment of Dundalk manager, Filippo Giovagnoli...
I think it's a great story and linking different backgrounds and different countries into that history is a good one to hear. I watched a long interview with him because I wanted to know who he is, what he is trying to do and what he is trying to express to his players. This is where I found out what happened and straight away he said he could feel that the players believed in what they were doing, which is everything that a coach wants. I think they have created a really good chemistry that has given them a big boost from last season. Big merit to them for the work that they are doing.

on the chances of an upset tomorrow...
I don't know. This is football and I've seen a lot of things in this game, so I don't take anything for granted. I always expect the opponent to be at their best. After that I try to convince my players what we have to do to win the game and execute it in the best possible way. That's it and we'll see what happens tomorrow.

on Dundalk’s strengths and weaknesses…
As I’ve said, their strengths are the unity of the team and how hard they work together and how well they are organised. There are a few bits where they look really dangerous in certain contexts. Against us in certain situations it’s a little more complicated, but yes, if you allow any team time and space, they will create issues. They’re really strong on set-pieces as well and I’m sure they will have prepared them for tomorrow, so we will have to control the normal aspects we do every week.

on whether there are any players that he liked the look of…
I will highlights the team and the spirit that they have and how they competed, and in the game against Molde you could see straight away how much belief they have in what they do.

on whether David Luiz could play against Dundalk…
There is no chance he will play against Dundalk. There is a big doubt for him to play at the weekend too.

on whether Willian is available for selection…
Willian has been training with us for two days and tomorrow he might be involved in the game at some stage.

on whether Bukayo Saka will be available…
Bukayo picked up a knock but he’s been training fine.

on whether our upcoming game against United will impact the team we see on Thursday…
Well, we try to game by game, but obviously in the last 10 days we have picked up a lot of issues at the back with our central defenders. We have to cautious and we have to manage that position very carefully because if we lose another one, then we will be in big trouble, so of course, we will have to keep an eye on how we manage the squad in the next two or three games.

on the FA’s Leadership Diversity Code…
We will support any cause like that, that brings equality to our society and opportunities to everybody. We were talking about the opportunity with the coach from Dundalk and we can open the doors for everybody. In this industry I think we should do that and it’s much better than it was 10 to 15 years ago, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot improve and evolve it. I think all of these causes are really positive for our environment.

on whether he hoped to give more game time to Reiss Nelson…
Well, we ended the window with a large squad and we had a few plans in mind for Reiss and one of them was to send him on loan to get more minutes because of the competition that we have up front. The reality is that he’s been really good in training, he wants to stay here and he wants to fight for his place. It’s what he’s doing and he’s going to get chances in the right moments. What I’m happy with is how he’s assimilated the situation with not playing a lot of minutes in the first few weeks, but as everybody can see, things are changing very quickly and we’re getting more and more injuries because of the schedule that we have. He will get the opportunities and then it will come down to him as to whether he takes them or not.

on whether Reiss understands why he isn’t starting…
Well, I tried. Obviously to compare things that happened eight or nine months ago is difficult in a positive or negative way all the time, but I always try to have a very open communication with the players and try to get their thoughts out of their mind and try to tell them when they play or don’t play, the reasons behind that, and most of the time they haven’t done anything wrong, there’s just a lot of competition in these positions and we are favouring other players in that moment. That’s it.

on why Reiss didn’t go out on loan…
Yes, it was a mix of a few things. Reiss was also really convinced that he wanted to fight to stay here, and when you see that willingness and passion and that security in a player, you feel tempted to keep him even though you know opportunities are going to be restricted and he’s not going to have a lot of continuity in his play. But things change very quickly and if he plays well and does what he can do, why not? Why can’t he start to play more games?

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