Press conference

Arteta on the derby, Tomiyasu, Kane and more

Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta was in relaxed mood as he faced the media on Friday ahead of the north London derby against Tottenham.

Our manager discussed the match in detail, his selection options, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on the latest team news...
Hopefully everyone is available, so good news. We have one more session before the game, but in general everyone is feeling good.

on how the team has prepared mentally for the game...
It is the most special game of the season at home, for sure. It is a north London derby, and emotionally it is a different one to play and we know how much it means for our supporters as well.

on managing a north London derby in front of fans for the first time...
To be fair, I can't wait to have that experience. Even right now, after such a long time without them, I have experienced some London derbies but without supporters and I am saying supporters because I think that is the word to describe the people who are behind our football club. What they have done in the last few weeks has been pretty special, they only want what is best for the club and it is very different to just being a fan. A fan and a supporter behave in different ways and what we have experienced in the past two games is pretty unique and is related to our history, its people who respect and want to promote the values that have been instilled in this club by many people who have been in charge here. It is just a privilege to see how they are able to understand, the intelligence they have shown because it comes from the knowledge that they know about our history, they know what we want to do, what we want to achieve and they are fully behind the team. 

on whether form comes into a derby...
There is a certain level of confidence when you are on a winning run that is really positive to face a big match. But after, when the ball is rolling, it is a completely different context. We are playing at home, we will have our people behind us and they will create an incredible climate that you have to be able to enjoy and make the most of it.

on whether Lacazette will be involved...
Everybody has a chance. We will not reveal what we will do in terms of the line up but obviously there are a few positions we are addressing and will try to make the right decisions.

on who will start in goal...
Well done for trying! You will see the line up on Sunday. As you can understand, we cannot give anything away.

on whether whoever starts in goal should be seen as our No 1...
It is one more game, a really important game, but we are in September so there are still eight or nine months to go in the competition.

on what the game means to the players...
They do [know what it means] and I will make sure that they understand what it means. The history between the two clubs and where this rivalry comes from and what it means emotionally to all of our supporters. You have to play this game with a slightly different skin because there is a little bit more at stake.
 
on Tottenham form…
As I mentioned, when the ball is rolling, I think we all forget where we are. We're all just trying to compete to win the football match. It won't be any different from them and both teams are going to try and win regardless because they have the necessity, we have the necessity, and we want to pick up the points. We know what it means for us this game. I'm sure we are going to try our best.
 
on Harry Kane's deeper role...
I think he's played in that role for a while, and now when you look at the numbers, and at the assists that he's able to create, and the goals that he's scoring, it's always on the top of the table. I don't think that has changed a lot.
 
on if Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey are 100 per cent ready to start...
Well, they are in the best possible state that they can be. Obviously, they've both had different issues in the last few weeks. Thomas with a big injury and Granit with a suspension. Ideally, you want players with more of a run of games and to be a little bit more consistent in terms of minutes, but they are both available.
 
on Granit Xhaka...
He came back and he was fine because he really looks after himself. He was training and as he always is, he gives you the maximum and the best possible attitude to compete and win matches.
 
on Takehiro Tomiyasu...
Well, I'm impressed. More than the performance as well the way he has settled. The way he has gained everybody's appreciation, the way he is and then yeah, he had no time to prepare against Norwich and then a proper Premier League traditional game against Burnley in which I think he was exceptional. He had to go through some difficult moments because they really tested you and I think he did that with pride. The way he is, he's always fully committed and focused.
 
on no injuries...
It's good! Let's continue like this!
 
on if there's a reason why there are no injuries...
Look at this weather! Everything helps. Good energy, a couple of wins, everybody wants to be involved and we have fantastic physio's and sports scientists and medical department and they try to look after them in the best possible way.
 
on if fans will buy into the project if we win on Sunday...
Well, we'll give them another reason to do it. I think they have already done, and they have shown that without getting the best results. That is something exceptional and remarkable and that's what I meant about the words that they are supporters which is very different. That's why we want to give them something that they can really enjoy and get even closer to our team.
 
on if he's decided the starting XI...
I have an idea, yes.
 
on Tottenham v Chelsea and the effect of N'Golo Kante...
Well, we don't have N'Golo, so we cannot use him. It's difficult to compare but I think they were two very different halves. I think it was a really competitive game that was decided as well in some small details and set pieces took a big part of that in the three goals. It was a good game to watch.

on Harry Kane - and if he’ll speak to his defenders about how to play against him…
Obviously we have to show them the threats and the qualities, and where they will try to hurt us. We have to try to prevent that as much as possible and we know that [Kane] is a big threat and a lot of things come from his contribution in attack.

on three wins in a row - and things changing quickly in football…
That’s the beauty of this sport - changes happen very quickly. You have to be able to see things with perspective, not lose focus, try to adapt and get he best out of yourselves in every single game, because the dynamics can change really quickly before you know it. We are in a good place to face Spurs on Sunday. But that’s it - after that we have to show what we can do on the pitch.

on how he keeps his players balanced during good and bad runs of form…
By telling them the truth and looking at the reality, trying to change and improve the things we can. That’s what’s showing in the things we’re doing really well. Try to find an understanding why performances don’t follow results, or if they do, it’s a bigger change that’s needed.

on Sunday’s game not affecting the top four at present - and what that means…
It can [show] how far this league has gone. Compared to there, four, five years ago, this is a different planet now. This Premier League has never been as strong as [now] - it’s the strongest league in the world and in history, in my opinion, because of the quality of the teams, the quality and the involvement of the organisation, how the league has developed and the quality of the coaches and managers in the league. With the players that are joining this league, it’s never been that strong.

on if he could play in this Premier League…
It’s too strong - I wouldn’t be able to play at this level. It’s much stronger.

on his views on safe standing and fans being allowed alcohol in the stands…
I think any regulation that creates an atmosphere in the stadium and is safe for everyone can be encouraged. We have authorities and we have processes that have to determine that much better than us. We don’t see a lot of things that are happening in the background so, if it’s safe and it encourages the atmosphere in a different way and they all agree with it, I think that can be discussed.

on if Aubameyang being late for the last derby at home is behind everyone…
Well, that was just an incident that I had to make a decision on. I did on the day and I think Auba is in a different position. He wasn’t in a bad position at the time - it was just an incident that we as a team had some ways of leaving together. That wasn’t the case so we made a decision. Now he’s been in really good form. I think the way he played at Burnley, even if he didn’t score a goal, it was extraordinary the way he played for the team. We are expecting him to play the same.

on if Auba scoring one goal so far is a problem…
But he will - and he’s generated the chances and we have to generate more and put him through on more occasions, where we know how it’s going end up. He’s in good form.

on if Auba thrives in these types of games…
You need a special moment and details often decide these types of fixtures. When big players step in and re able to do that for the team, the outcome normally becomes really positive.

on Lacazette's future…
We disclosed that internally and we disclosed that with him. There’s a long season ahead of us - anything can happen, everything is open. He just needs to concentrate on performing and contributing to the team like he always does. He’s a phenomenal character. He’s somebody that is always pushing and has a real interest to help the team. That is not going to change - and after we will see what happens.

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