Press conference

Arteta on Leicester, team news, form: transcript

Mikel Arteta held another virtual press conference on Friday ahead of our trip to Leicester in the Premier League.

The boss discussed our formation, the latest team news, Brendan Rodgers, the threat Leicester pose and much more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on team news...
There have been a few of them that haven't been able to train. We picked up some knocks during the game against Leeds, but hopefully, when everybody is back, we will have better news.

on if he can say who has picked up the knocks...
Not yet.

on Kieran Tierney...
He's progressing in training. Let's see again how he is today. He felt a little bit better in the last few days but he wasn't 100 per cent ready to start the game, but again, we will see what happens in the last 40 hours. 

on Nuno Tavares...
He had an impressive performance. To have your first Premier League debut and to play the way he did with that intensity as well that he is not used to. Credit to the boy. I really like what he did, he's still really young, he's improving, he's settled really well and he had a really good performance. 

On Leicester...
Both teams for sure are going to play to win the game. We both know that it's going to be a tough game. We have some experience against them as well and we'll just prepare for the game in the best possible way. 

on our good recent record over Leicester...
I don't know. Their team has changed. They can play in different formations. There are some principles that they respect really well. I think Brendan has done a tremendous job over there and we're going to face a team again that can have different faces because of the way they play and it will be difficult. 

on how midweek matches will affect the weekend...
We both had to play 90 minutes, except for the penalties. We had a really tough game against the most intense Premier League team in Leeds and now we feel recovered and ready for the next one. 

on the performance against Aston Villa...
I was really pleased with the performance, with the energy that we had, we every intention from the first minute to do what we believed could hurt Villa and we continued like that throughout the game so it's another step. That game is gone and now the full focus is just on Leicester. 

on Eddie Nketiah...
He's another one that is constantly pushing and every time he's got a chance he takes that chance. Obviously, there are other players involved in those positions. It's the same with other players that haven't had a lot of minutes because we have not had any games in Europe, unfortunately, this season and we have to manage that situation and reward those players that they deserve.

on Bernd Leno...
I think he competed really well the other day and he showed his level. That what he's here for and when he plays he needs to play at the best level and when he's not he needs to support his teammates like everybody else does. 

on if playing 4-4-2 is the key to improving away form... 
We have different options to play with different players who bring different qualities and formations that can adapt to what we want to do in the game or because of the opponent. That's it, and then scoring goals or not is just a consequence of the amount of chances that we create, but sometimes unfortunately, it's just about efficiency as well.

on the situation at Barcelona...
Yeah, there's been a lot going on in the last few years. Obviously, how Covid has affected the way that you have to overcome a situation like the departure of Messi, who has been the key player for many many years and all that takes time. We will see. I just hope that everything works out well.

on speculation about the job...
I'm extremely happy at Arsenal and I feel privileged to be here and my only focus is here. 

on five substitutions...
I don't know. There have been different situations. Obviously, in the Covid world, we had one situation, we've had a lot of struggles, a lot of games in a really condensed calendar. I don't think it's going to change with the way it's looking with the World Cup and the willingness to play every two years and then the African cups and then play another two cups and play every single competition that is possible. We have to think really about how we're going to take care of those players so we don't burn them. 

on the reason behind our good form...
We go game by game and try to improve every single game. Try to keep the spirit and perspective in the right place and when things are not working and the same when things are getting better. There is still a lot of things to improve and we know that we don't want to be where we are still. We want to be the best and to do that there are a lot of things that have to get better. 

on what we can improve on...
I think in every department we can get better. The use of the ball, the understanding of the game, how we manage situations, how we deal with moments of pressure. In everything, in every department, I think we have a lot of improvements to make but there are some basics that we are doing much better which helps a lot to win football matches. 

on the temptation to go unchanged from Aston Villa...
What I'm really pleased about is that the players are knocking on the door with the right attitude to play and that's giving us options and just raises the level of the team. I don't see anybody trying to find excuses why they are not playing or trying to blame somebody when they're not playing. Just trying to put the best possible work in in training and then talk on the pitch, which is the best way. Talking outside of the pitch is really easy because you can always find excuses and blame everybody else. It's when you have the opportunity now in the moment to talk and show that you can do it and I really like, in many examples, what the players have done when they've been in those positions. 

on Ole Gunnar Solsjaer and Nuno Espirito Santo’s positions at their clubs...
It’s always about the results, and we all know that and the rest it doesn’t really matter. So when you are having difficulties getting results, then you’re going to be in that position. There’s nothing new for anybody. But yes, obviously you feel (for them) because you know what you have to go through. So you feel that obviously it’s not a nice moment for those that are going through that.
 
on the sickness bug going around at the club...
Yes it was a bit of sickness, and just tummy aches and things like that. Hopefully today everybody will be OK.
 
on if Ben White is affected...
He hasn’t trained yet, so again we’d have to wait for today to see how he’s feeling, and make the decision then.
 
on Auba and his recent efforts for team...
Well, we had various conversations and obvioulsy where you have a season where as a team we haven’t fulfilled our expectations, and individually we haven’t - we have to find the right reasons why. How we can change that, how we can improve them, how we can help him to improve certain things that are going to have a huge impact in the team. And he’s been so willing to do that from the start. I am so pleased because again, his role is different to one that he had two or three years ago, and now he needs to lead in every sense - and he’s doing that and I’m really happy with him.
 
on if Auba is enjoying his new role…
I think he is, and I think you can see it on the pitch. He’s playing with a smile on his face, he’s transmitting energy, passion, willingness - and not only that but outside the pitch as well. That’s what I want - a happy Auba leads with his character, and that’s what he’s able to transmit to everybody, and that energy is always positive. 
 
on Patson Daka, and if he’s aware of the player...
Yes we’ve been aware of him. I think Leicester have been really strong and clever in their recruitment over the years - that they have been able to build the team that they have. He’s looks a really strong player. 
 
on what Ben White has added to the side...
Well we have different options but obviously we wanted to recruit somebody that could straight away naturally adapat to the way that we want to play. And Ben had all the qualities that we were looking for. He’s happy to defend, open the space, he’s really good in duels, he has a huge personality to play when we’re demanding to make a process with the ball, in different ways against differet kinds of press. Or when theydon’t press and he has time on the ball, to make the right decisions. He has the anger, and I really like his character as well when I met him, and that’s when we made the decision to sign him.
 
on White's partnership with Gabriel and whether the language barrier matters...
Yes but the language is important, and Gabi has improved a lot in that sense this season. For any centre back partnership, coaching and communciation is key, and that’s helping obviously in the back line.
 
on William Saliba, and if White’s signing meant he could go out on loan…
Well everything is linked. Obviously the amount of centre backs that we could have in the team. The issues that we had in the past because of the numbers that we had, and the unbalance we had in the position. And because of William’s decision in his career right now to make the minutes that he’s making and the progress that he’s making, we believe that it was the right thing to do. 
 
on Saliba’s performance against PSG, and if he’s spoken to him since...
Yes we have been as a club always in touch. They went to see the game as well, Edu and Ben were there to watch him and to keep a close eye on him and the progress that he’s making. Obviously he’s our player and with all the loaned players that we have.
 
on if Saliba would have been in the squad against Leeds if he was here...
At the moment he’s there, and he played a different game that week, and this is it. He continues to do what he needs to do which is to play a lot of games and play them well.
 
on Saliba’s future with the club...
That’s a decision that we’ll make in the summer. Obviously he’s our player, and naturally that would happen, and we’d have to sit down and decide what the best step is next. 
 
on Ben White’s comments about watching games outside of work...
I think there are phases in the career of a footballer - he goes through more focus in other things than football. But I’ve met people that they don’t see a lot of football but they watch all the games that they play 3 times. And others that they don’t want to watch their own games, but they can watch any other game. You have to find the right balance. For me the most important thing is that he shows passion to play the game. Every single day to train, and to have enjoyment playing football - which is what he has - and then the way he competes. The way he wants to improve. We believe that this (could be) better, this is something that we would discuss, but at the moment what he’s doing is working fine for him.
 
on Viera’s comments about watching games being an essential learning tool...
I think it has to come naturally - like anything. If you force a player to do something he’s not interested in outside here - it’s going to be very difficult. Hopefully you can feed something within his body that can create (a response like) “Ok I want to want to start to look at this in a different way, in a different league, in a different team” and try to feed that. Sometimes it happens.

on if Odegaard’s needs to add more end product in the final third...
Absolutely. All the players that are playing in the attacking line have to contribute at the maximum level that is required to achieve the numbers that you need to be the best team in the league. If you don’t then it’s just maths. You won’t get there.

 

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