Press conference

Arteta on... Man United, Aubameyang and team news

With our game against Manchester United on the horizon, Mikel Arteta was back in front of the media on Thursday morning.

Our manager discussed the latest team news, whether Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be available, the signing of Martin Odegaard and more.
 
Read on for a full transcript:
 
on the latest team news...
I don't know, we had a day off yesterday. We will be training today and will see how everybody is. I think Dani Ceballos will be training with the squad in the next few days, Pablo Mari probably as well. Obviously Martin Odegaard will be joining us as well and for the rest we have to see how Kieran is. I think that's it.

on whether Aubameyang could return at the weekend...
I don't know. I spoke with him yesterday and things are looking better at the moment but we're going to have to wait and see.

on the players dedicating the win to Aubameyang...
That's what we always talk about and what we always expect to do for each other, that when someone is having difficulties that we understand him, protect him, give him our love and be right behind him because that's what's needed.

on what the atmosphere is like in the dressing room compared to just before Christmas...
If it's comparing the results, obviously it's much better because after the game the energy when you win or lose is different in the dressing room. In general, how this dressing room behaves, how they are as a group, there is not a big difference. That is the plus for me. What we have done in previous months, we have managed to sustain that in difficult moments and be together as a team.

on Manchester United...
We know it's going to be really difficult. They've been in top form. They've been top of the table, playing really well. We know they are a real threat so we have to be at our best to beat them on Saturday.

on being five points off the top four...
We're keeping the momentum going, the run going, being very humble and understanding that there are a lot of things we have to improve. There is so much we have to do to catch up with many other teams still, and go game by game. Let's see where we get.

on Odegaard...
He's a player that we followed for some time and we believe that he's got some special qualities that we need, that we have been missing. Now we have to give him a little bit of time. He hasn't played that many minutes in Madrid but he's been training hard and he looks so excited, as we are, to have another big talent at our club.

on whether he could start on Saturday...
It's a little bit early to decide. Let's see how he goes in training and we will see, don't worry.

on Mat Ryan...
He's settled really quickly. I was really impressed when I talked to him. He's really focused, really engaged with what we want to do. He's a very professional guy and he's coming here to compete with Alex and with Bernd. That's the mentality and the desire that we want for any player that joins our club.

on whether he spoke to Tim Cahill about Ryan...
I did speak to him obviously because I always like to have information with players, with coaches that have spent time with them. I got a really positive feedback from Tim as well as other people. When you have reliable sources, you feel much more confident to make any decision.

on whether Odegaard can live up to the high expectations...
I wouldn't even suggest anyone could get close to [Messi] because it's a lost battle, in my opinion. Martin is Martin and I think in the last few seasons he's progressed and developed in the right way. I've followed him very closely because he played for Real Sociedad, which is my hometown. I know him really well. I've been really impressed. He's a such a talent. He needs the right environment, he needs a little bit of time but I think he's got the qualities to be a success for us.

on the impact Odegaard can have...
He's a specialist to play in the pockets, to play in the No 8 or 10 positions. He can play off the sides. He's a really creative player who's really comfortable on the ball in tight spaces. He has the capacity to create chances and to score goals. Something that he has improved a lot is his work-rate without the ball as well, so it's another option to give us more creativity for sure in the final third, and give us more options to set up in different ways against certain teams.
 
on talk of Torreira going to Monaco on loan…
We have been talking to Lucas, Edu has been very close to the situation. He hasn’t been playing as many minutes as he would like, as we would like, but to be fair the team is doing so well in Spain and it is understandable they don’t change the team so much. We just want to be right behind Lucas, protect him, help him make the right decisions for the future, so let’s see what happens. But we are monitoring the situation very closely.
 
on whether his loan could be cut short at Atletico Madrid…
I don’t know. At the moment he’s going to stay at Atletico, that’s my belief and I don’t know if that is going to change in the next two or three days.
 
on whether other players could leave…
When there are still days left in the market there is still the possibility for things to happen. We are in close contact with all the things that can happen and we will see.
 
on Smith Rowe and Partey’s fitness…
I don’t know, let’s see how they come today. They had some discomforts in different parts, Thomas and Emile, and we will have to see how they evolve. We still have some days until the game but not long so let’s see how they recover.
 
on how much of a surprise Man United’s defeat to Sheffield United was…
It is not a surprise because to beat any team in this league is extremely difficult and people take it for granted. Sheffield United are a really well organised team, they are a threat and they are good at what they do. They lost many games by one goal, where they didn’t deserve to lose. Every game is a [challenge] in this league and anybody can beat anybody, and with the context and circumstances we have this season, it makes it even more difficult.
 
on how he sold the move to Martin Odegaard...
I just wanted to give him a clear picture of us as a club, what we are trying to do, what we expect from him and just try to transmit the passion and excitement we had to try to bring him in, show him the project, how he can fit in that project and just try to persuade him that this is the right place for him in this new chapter in his career, and try to make things work.
 
on whether the Southampton performance was a blueprint...
Well Southampton had a lot of things that I want to see from our side, but we still have so many things to improve. You mention [I have had] three transfer windows and it is still not there, but it's been over a year since I joined and in a very particular way but things are moving in the direction we want, but I am still very aware of the things we have to get better at.
 
on whether it will be another transfer window before it becomes his team...
It will depend because every transfer window is different. What expectation you have in that transfer window, and what can actually happen. There are a lot of uncertainties to be able to answer that question with complete honesty.
 
on how he prevents burn out for Saka and Smith Rowe...
Monitoring very closely what they need, what they are doing and the steps they are taking over periods of time and assessing all the time about where they are. It is not only about the physical, it is about the mental side as well to deal with the pressure, the expectations, and every character is different so we have to manage that very closely.
 
on whether Martin has a place in his long-term vision...
He certainly has all the qualities and characteristics that we are looking for for that position. Then it will be down to two things. First of all, how well he adapts here and how much of an impact he can have in our team. Secondly, what Real Madrid and the player think about it because he's owned by Real Madrid and the player has a big say in that too.
 
on how much he's been impressed by the squad's mentality...
I am really impressed with the resilience that we have shown as a team and who we have been through those difficult moments. I think that's really important. You really see the people, the players, the characters and the values of a club when things are not going well. When things are going well it's easy, everybody wants to be on the front page and with a smile to it. I think it's been a really good test, to test again our character but as well, how we communicate and how we deal with pressure. I must say that I have been really impressed with that.
 
on not losing to Manchester United at home for over two years...
Well, I think every game is completely different. They have the capacity and the quality to beat any side in the world. We know we're going to have to be at our best because the demands of these games are huge. We need to be better than what we were on Tuesday again to beat them and that's the way we're going to prepare.
 
on Auba having an impressive record against United and how keen he is to get him straight back into the side...
He's our captain and one of the most important players. We're doing everything we can to have him as quickly as possible, but understanding that he's been through a difficult few days, that he had to support his family and we were here to support him as well with the time that he needed to get that sorted.
 
on whether Auba had to go abroad or if he stayed in the UK...
He had to support his family and he had to be with them.
 
on if there could be quarantining issues...
I don't know what will happen.
 
on Reiss Nelson not making the last two squads and if he expects that he'll leave on loan before the deadline...
That's a conversation that we are having with the players that are not having a lot of time. Obviously we want to keep their development going and we will make decision in the next three days with some of them on what the best thing is to do. We try to be clear and transparent with what the plans are and their roles in the team and after that, we decide on the best thing for the players and the club.
 
on whether Ainsley is concerned that he needs to be playing more football to keep his England place...
Yes, it is a concern when there is international football involved as well and the chance to reach that opportunity. I understand that Ainsley wants more minutes and what he needs to do is fight, train and challenge his teammates and show us that he can be one of our starters.
 
on if Mustafi will stay until the summer or if a mutual termination may be agreed...
Again, he's another situation at the moment that is opening and we are having conversations internally with the player and agent. We will see what the right solution is for this one as well.
 
on whether he expects him to stay...
We are monitoring the situation, I cannot say much more than that. We have conversations ongoing and we'll see what's the best [decision] at the end of the transfer window.

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