Press conference

Arteta on Lacazette, team news, Villa: transcript

Arteta

Mikel Arteta held another virtual press conference on Thursday ahead of our game against Aston Villa.

The boss discussed Alex Lacazette, the latest team news, Dean Smith, the threat Villa pose and more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on the latest team news…
We have a training session today, we had two or three players who finished the game [against Crystal Palace] with some issues, and we had to assess them today.

on Bukayo Saka’s fitness…
He hasn’t trained yet, so again we have to assess him today and see how he is.

on Lacazette’s hopes of featuring more regularly…
Keep doing what he’s doing, he had a good impact as well when he came on against Brighton and he is a player, since I have been here, has played a lot, has been really important and will continue to be important.

on playing without the handbrake on in the future…
After scoring the goal, and after hitting the level of performance that we hit after the first part of the game, just make sure that we go for the second goal and continue to play with the same fluidity, the same intention that we are going to start to defend something that we have earned because the game is really long and we have to do that for longer periods of the game.

on Aston Villa…
It is a test and they have shown how difficult they can be against us, because we haven’t got the results that we wanted against them recently. So we know they have improved their squad, the way they have played a lot in the last few seasons they are showing a lot of ambition the way they are recruiting as well, and it will be a difficult game for sure.

on if he will give an update on the players he has slight concerns about…
No, there are a few.

on whether Bukayo will be available for Friday’s game…
I am not a betting man and it is down to the doctors and himself to see how he recovers and how he feels when he trains today and tomorrow.

on his importance…
He is very important, he has shown how important he is for the team.

on the reception Alex Lacazette received when he came on against Crystal Palace…
I think he was able to transmit that energy, and that was contagious for the rest of the team and for the stadium. He created a different atmosphere straight away with his energy and his quality as well and the determination he showed to change the result - and that belief he had in himself that he could do it.

on Laca’s contract running down…
It is the situation that we have, we have to accept it. I cannot ask anything fo the player, the way he is dealing with that situation and it is not an individual situation because it has a knock-on effect as others we have had to deal with in the past, and we have to see what the best option will be for everyone at the end of the season.

on the fact Laca is still giving everything…
I had no doubts about that, and if I did I would probably have suggested doing something different with him in the summer. When a player cannot find the motivation and interest din just his financial future, it is not the case with Laca and he has shown that since I’ve been here every single day and that’s why he is a really important player for us.

on if he would like Laca to stay if it were up to him…
Well, he’s our player, and I treat him like any other player. Not because he has a year left, or doesn’t have a year left. I’m not going to treat him differently, and that’s what he deserves.

pn Dean Smith and whether the club’s faith in him is paying off…
It is (paying off). I really like him first of all as a person. Everything I’ve heard from him is really really positive. He’s building a team, and a club with different ambitions, and credit to him and the owners obviously for giving him the time and the credit to do that. He’s doing a really good job.

on Villa having 48 hrs longer to prepare for the match, and if it’ll make a difference…
I hope not, I hope we’ve had enough time and everybody’s focused and available. We play at home. We know the type of game we need to play to beat them, and our focus is only that.

on Jack Wilshere saying Kieran Tierney is the fastest player at the club...
Yes, well depending on the test, but Kieran for sure is one of the quickest. Depending on the distances, and the different type of measurements that you want to take. But for sure he’s one of the fastest.

on whether Mikel will say if Lacazette will be starting on Friday or not…
Obviously, you know that I will not do that.

on whether we got an explanation as to why James McArthur wasn’t sent off on Monday…
No, we had communication with the referees and the association to try to explain why they didn’t intervene in that action. The explanation we had at the start of the season is that they would when there is an obvious error there. They need to take action, and they didn’t. These actions determine a football match and the result, and for me it’s unacceptable.

on Klopp’s comment about Liverpool ‘winning dirty’, and whether we need to adopt this mentality...
Yes, my focus is to win and play well, and this is what we have to do. When we were playing well, and in the phases that we were playing well we dominated the game. We generated the chances, and we deserved to win the game. The issues come when we don’t start to do that. But when you do that you have to show enough resilience and know how to manage those situations; like we had to do against Brighton in certain moments, and still be able to win the match. Sometimes individuals actions, [such as] a set piece helps you to do that. Of course it’s another way of winning, and it has to be present in the way the team acts and thinks.

on Buendia, and whether Arsenal were close to signing him…
I never disclose the players that we were interested in, and I’m not going to do that now.

on Steve Bruce...
Well, I was really sad after reading that statement from Steve. First of all, because I know him personally, and secondly, because of what he transmitted in his words. You're talking about somebody who has been in the game for over 40 years as a player and as a manager. He's managed over 1000 games and he's telling you, with that experience, with that level of expertise that he has - because you have to to be able to sustain yourself at that level - that he struggles with that kind of situation, with that kind of abuse. I think we have to reflect. We can't take for granted and accept certain things because they are how they are. No, we are here as well to improve them and change them, like we do with any rules, with any fixture list and we have with anything that we want to improve for our sport, fans, stadium, facilities and broadcasts. We're going to spend more time and we have an open table to discuss how we're going to do that because I think we have to think about the fact that one of the most experienced managers in England's history is telling you that on a letter. You can't just ignore that, so for me, it's a very serious statement and it's something that has to change and has to start to change.

on if the fans have too powerful a voice...
No. We can't blame the fans, guys. No, it's not the fans. Football is in an industry that is that big, that has such a big impact in society that everybody has an opinion and it's great. To have a strong opinion and be so convinced about what you see and how you judge how people act, you don't have to study. You don't even have to be able to play football. You can just give a strong opinion and that's it. You talk about chemistry. You don't do that. You talk about law and in law you don't have that opinion because you have to study and then you don't say anything. But you can say anything about that and it's good because it creates debate, it creates opinion and it's great, but when you cross the line, I think it becomes really difficult because it's not [just] a man. It's a man, it's a family, it's his loved ones, it's the environment and I think we have to reflect. I was really impressed with how he explained openly how he felt and I didn't like it to be fair.

on Alex Lacazette's contract...
It's a problem that occurs at every club because the contract has a length and players have certain ages and certain phases in their career, and it's something common that you have to be able to deal with.

on the possibility of giving Lacazette another year...
That's a strategy that you can use. When you do it you can do it a year before, you can do it during the season or at the end of the season. There are very different ways. Every player acts differently and needs a different level of motivation and then a different level of confidence and reassurance that he's got the trust and belief of the club. Every case is different.

on whether we could have offered Lacazette a new deal already …
Well, it depends on a lot of things. It’s not just a matter of being willing, it’s being possible to fulfil that will and the when, which is very important as well.

on whether Lacazette definitely won’t be offered a new deal…
No, we will see. Anything is possible.

on being asked to play on a Friday after playing on Monday…
It is very strange and when we have no European football it’s difficult to understand, but it’s what it is and we can give our opinion but in the end we have no say in that.

on whether it puts him at a disadvantage….
I don’t want to think like that. If we focus on the game, we have enough days to recover and prepare for the game and that’s what we’re going to do.

on the sale of Martinez and the arrival of Ramsdale…
We made decisions with the best possible intentions and looking for the best interests of the club, but as well it was a very strong participant, it was Emi, who deserves all the credit for the amount of time he spent at the club and don’t forget that he had different spells in his career and he got to a point in his career when under me he started to play in important games and he did extremely well. His ambition, his belief and where wants to take his career was very different and it was urgent for him because he was so patient for so long and I’m really happy that he’s doing so well. He’s a great keeper, I played with him, I managed him, and he has tremendous personality as well and he’s showing that at Aston Villa and the national team. I can say that I’m happy for him.

on Leno and Ramsdale as options…
We have two fantastic goalkeepers and we have another two academy players behind them. I think we are really strong in that position at the moment.

on playing 4-3-3 and whether he needs to pick and choose when to use it…
If we play 4-3-3 the way we played the first 20 minutes, we win the games, but if we start to play the way we played the following 20 minutes, it doesn’t work, because again, that is a transition game and we don’t have the players to do that when we play in that formation. The play in the last 20 minutes is something that we haven’t done a lot as well, but it worked because we generated what we wanted. We have to be flexible and we have to play players in their strengths and when they are not playing.

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