Press conference

Arteta on Leno, Martinelli, Saints: transcript

There was a lot for Mikel Arteta to get through in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday evening.

Our head coach discussed the trip to Southampton, the fitness of some key players, the job he is facing and more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on positive news on Bernd Leno...
Well we thought it was going to be a more significant injury, we don't know the extent of the injury still but at least we know the cruciate ligaments are not damaged. That was the biggest fear at the start. He was more positive and in less pain today so that's good news.

on whether Sokratis and Xhaka could be in contention for Thursday...
Well, we don't know yet - they haven't trained fully with the team yet. Let's see how they are tomorrow and if they can be involved in any way with the squad. But they are not yet ready.

on Southampton's strengths...
They are a very German side. A manager who has the team into pressing mode, they are really aggressive, really good on the counter-press, really good on the transition, they know what they're doing and they all seem very committed to him. A very dangerous team.

on whether he is getting a sense of how big the job is...
I knew that the challenge was going to be big, but to be fair a lot of things have happened since I joined. This is what we have, a lot of complications in the last few weeks internally in terms of the injuries as well, but we have to deal with this. I think the most difficult thing to buy in football is time. I strongly believe in what we are trying to do, medium term I know that it is going to work, but right now we need results and we need to perform to win football matches. That is what we have to be focused on.

on Gary Neville's comments about overhauling the defence...
At the moment we cannot do anything, at the moment we are playing with the players that we have. My job is to make them as good as possible. They are players that kept a lot of clean sheets under me, that were undefeated for 12 games and they did really well, so I don't like to [just focus on it] when they lose. I know overall where we can strengthen the team, but as well that we have some players who are very valuable, that have been performing under me really well and I trust them.

on whether he has spoken to Matteo Guendouzi...
My job is to make sure that we all behave in relation to the shirt that we wear. What happens on the pitch, I played for 17 years and it stays on the pitch because you can mould and change in words and context very easily and you shouldn't be doing that at all. But obviously we showed frustration. In a way I like it, because it means that we care about losing and we don't accept any defeats. But I like that reaction earlier rather than after football games.

on what more he wants to see on Thursday...
I think they are really willing and they are trying really hard, and I was really upset because when I was talking about competing it is for 100 minutes, now these types of games have water breaks and the amount of changes with substitutions that you can make, so you have to keep focus. I hate losing, but I hate giving games away when they are under control and you deserve to win them. So it is about that edge,, the way they run, the way they press, the way they care, it is completely changed and I am satisfied with that. We have done more than enough to win that game, but at the end of the day in the Premier League, at this level, if you give something to the opponent in some moments, it is going to be difficult to win football games in a row.

on whether he thinks the team can finish in the top four...
We will see the reaction now. When you are winning two or three games in a row, it's easy, when you lose one it becomes a little bit more difficult. When you lose two in a row, two very different games that are completely different to asses, I want to see that reaction and how much they want it and how they're going to react as a team as well as how they're going to react as individuals and go for it.

on the confidence of the squad at the moment...
It's not about the confidence, it's about being upset and when you know that it has been your fault to lose a game. I think it helps much more. I see the players willing to get back on Thursday and transform this into a win and everything will be looking much, much better. But at the same time, as a group we have to be dealing with this situation and throughout the season you're going to lose one or two games on the trot, but it will be how do you react.

on Emi Martinez...
He's been very patient for a lot of years, waiting for this opportunity. Now it's in his hands. He needs to enjoy it. He needs to take it, enjoy it, make the most out of it and help the team when he really needs to. That's what he is here for.

on Southampton...
I know it's a really difficult ground to go to there. I explained what the qualities of Southampton are and I agree with you, they are a really dangerous team. They have no fear, they go for it and they really believe in what they do and they compete really, really well. We have to be ready and I'm sure on Thursday we will be ready.

on whether he will use this season to outline his vision for the future...
I knew since I joined what I was jumping into. The past few seasons, what happened, I knew it wasn't a coincidence. So I could've sat back and waited to see if the opportunity was still there in the summer, or I could use this time as well to start the process that I want and to start to see where the changes that have to be made are. A lot of things have already changed at the club and are in evolution to change, even results and energy was changing just before the coronavirus. I cannot control everything. Now I don't have them in my hands as much as I would like during the day, because they are in and out, in and out and that is obviously not ideal for what we need as a team and as a club. But again, it's not an excuse. We are here to win football games and that's my responsibility. I take it fully. But we are assessing a lot of things to make a very clear picture of what is going to take us to the next level, because right now is not enough.

on whether he's hoping there may be less coronavirus restrictions by next season...
Well, hopefully yes, we can provide them a safe environment which is the most important thing. Of course we are willing, not just myself but all the managers and clubs in the world, it's the same with the fans and how different the games are. You notice it in the rhythm and how you are competing, the quality of the game, it's miles away from what it was. But we are living in a unique situation and it's what we have.

on Martinelli’s injury…
Yeah, we had some really bad news again yesterday. In training in the last action he got hit by another player and he’s damaged his knee. The doctor is assessing the extent of the injury, but it’s not looking good at all. We don’t know (how long he’s going to be out for), but it’s looking like months.

on whether he can put our bad run of injuries down to anything…
Well, if two players (collide) with each other or what happened with Pablo on his own, and a lot we’ve had in recent months, they’re not muscular injuries. They are more traumatic injuries, but again, we’ve been really unlucky with that and we’re going to have to deal with it.

on David Luiz, Cedric, Ceballos and Mari…
Yeah, it’s very complicated with the timing of it and some of the legal issues that are involved with that. The club is trying to finalise everything in the next few hours and we have no choice, we have to do it and even more with all the injuries we’ve had. We are trying to resolve this.

on whether he’s confident that we can keep all of them…
I’m confident that we can do it. I hope so.

on whether missing out on European football could benefit us in the long run…
I don’t know, I’m telling that I’m going to try to win the rest of the games, that’s for sure. I don’t want look any more behind than that. We have some examples that it helped them in difficult situations when they were involved with the clubs, but it doesn’t give you any guarantees. I want to win football games and I want to play in Europe next year. This is what this club has to be doing and it’s our responsibility to try to do that.

on Pablo Mari’s current situation…
Well, we’ve been trying to get the deal done because we were happy with what Pablo can bring to us and the club were trying to finalise the deal. I think the club will announce that as quick as possible when everything is sorted. There were some legal issues that needed to get done, but our intention is to keep him.

on whether he hopes to secure him on a permanent transfer…
Yes.

on the financial difficulties that could arise in the summer…
At the moment, just to predict what is going to happen in the transfer window is impossible. You can see one or two clubs doing these sorts of deals, but the rest is really, really quiet. As I told you, we have to assess the financial situation that we have, and as well the results and where we finish in the season will dictate whether we have a narrow gap or a bigger gap to do any deals. I think we are going to have to wait another four to six weeks to see what we are able to do.

on whether he hopes to sign Cedric on a permanent basis…
It was the plan from the start. He’s been so, so unlucky because he was injured when he joined and then he had a fracture in his nose. He hasn’t played at all for us, but again, we think he’s a player that will improve and will help the squad depth. Hopefully we can do it.

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