Press conference

Arteta on Leicester, Saka and Benfica

The big games just keep on coming for us at the moment.

Hours after beating Benfica in dramatic circumstances in Athens, Mikel Arteta was back in front of the media to look ahead to Sunday's Premier League clash at Leicester.

Read on for a full transcript:

on how crucial the win was for the development of the team…
I think it was really important for all of us, because it is a competition that opens a few doors for us in terms of having the possibility to win a trophy and qualify for the Champions League. Obviously it is all the time in our mind because we know our league position at the moment, that has to improve dramatically but if we do well in this competition it gives us an extra chance and a hope to achieve something this season.

on how good Bukayo Saka can be…
How good can he be is a question nobody can answer. How good he is and how good he wants to be, that is probably where we can find a lot of answers for why he is doing so well. He is a boy that is constantly willing to learn, to get better, to work on the things he can do better and he is a very humble and hard working boy. When that happens normally, and you have the talent he has, you can go a long way.

on Aubameyang reaching his best form again…
Yes, because he is getting into much better positions, his rhythm during the games is much better with and without the ball, his movement. The week before when we played Benfica, he had three big chances and I am not worried about him missing them because I know if he gets in those positions, he is going to be scoring consistently so this is what he has to demand of himself. If we have Auba at his best, as a team we obviously have a much better chance to be successful.

00:10

Aubameyang opens the scoring against Benfica

on whether he will rotate at Leicester…
Let’s see how we are feeling tomorrow. Today the players are still in Greece, we have to travel back on a four-hour flight but we won’t use that as an excuse. We have to deal with that, we know that when you play in European competition you have to be able to perform every three days and we will prepare to play Leicester with the same intensity like we always do.

on whether there are any fresh injury concerns...
No. We had some things going on but I cannot say anything now because there are a few players who are still in contention for the game.

on how big a test Leicester will be of our character...
They've been really consistent in the league. I think they've done a lot of good things, there's not any luck or anything like that in how they've developed as a team. Obviously they have a really good manager, a great coaching staff and they have made a lot of good decisions in the last few seasons. They have built a way of playing which is completely suited to their recruitment policy they have, and with a bit of time the quality that they had already in the team - plus some young talents that they have recruited and experienced players they already have - they have a really good mixture. I think they totally deserve the position they are in at the moment.

on what the manner of the win over Benfica will do for club mood...
Hopefully for us and the players it will generate belief. We know that in this competition we're going to go through difficult patches, be it a moment in a game, a whole game or something unpredictable that happens. You have to be able to react to it. All the winners in European competition have to have a magic moment, a moment of luck, have to be able to overcome difficult situations. We did it last night and in a convincing way as well because I could see the players were ready to fight and they never looked disappointed, even after the way we conceded the second goal. That gives me hope. It's a good experience to have together. Hopefully we can use it for the future in the next games.

01:29

Benfica (h) - Bitesize

on if we'll look back on the win as a pivotal moment...
If you want to win competitions, you need that. When we beat Manchester City and Chelsea to win the FA Cup final, when we beat Liverpool to win the Community Shield, you need those moments in the game. Someone to produce those moments of something unexpected and then to minimise the individual errors that can lead to goals. If you have those two things, I think you're in a much better position to win something.

on Aubameyang's improved form...
Sometimes when you go through difficult moments, you can have those difficult moments and get into a sad mode and I think that's the worst thing you can do because nobody has to feel sorry for themselves when you're having those moments. What you have to do is get upset, get angry, work harder and approach the situation and face it. Face the challenge in a way that creates more motivation and more hunger to do it and I think in recent weeks I've seen that reaction. For example, in a training session before we played here he missed a penalty and he was really upset. Instead of going sad he got upset and I said to the coaching staff that I like that and that he would be fine tomorrow. When you have that mentality, I think that's the right way to approach it.

on if Brendan Rodgers should be considered for Manager of the Season...
I think so. Obviously what Manchester City are achieving at the moment is phenomenal. It's unprecedented and that has to be rewarded but as I mentioned before, what Leicester have done in recent years, what they have already achieved this season, with the level of consistency that they've shown in the Premier League, I think [Brendan winning the award] is something to consider.

 

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