Press conference

Arteta on Man United, Martinelli and Gabriel

Mikel Arteta speaking during his pre-match press conference

Mikel Arteta had a face to face press conference with the media for the first time in more than 20 months on Wednesday as he looked ahead to our game at Manchester United.

The boss discussed Ralf Rangnick, the latest team news, Gabriel, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and more.
 
Read on for a full transcript:
 
on the latest team news…
Granit is still not ready, Kolasinac is still not ready, we have a doubt with Bukayo and another few knocks we got against Newcastle so today is the day to assess how everyone is and if they will be fit for tomorrow and then make the decision on the squad.
 
on Saka…
I am hopeful but we don’t know. Obviously it’s a really short turnaround and the player has to be comfortable playing with a little injury, so let’s see how he is in training.
 
on the robbery involving Gabriel…
Obviously it is not a nice thing to go through when you have family involved and they are trying to access your house. Gabi showed a lot of character, you see the reaction he had straight away. Credit to the boy. After that he was fine. Obviously he was shocked, there were a few things he wanted to change in his life to try to prevent those things happening and the club gave him all the support that was needed to try to forget about the situation, learn from it and move on.
 
on how difficult it is to prepare to face Man United with all the changes there…
You know what to expect when you got to that stadium and play in front of that crowd. They are a team, a squad that is one of the most talented in the league. You know the situation you are going to face. It is very difficult tactically because you don’t know how they are going to prepare the game, the options that they can play, the formation they can [have] so it’s focused more on ourselves, on what we have to do and make sure the team is prepared to go there and beat them.
 
on Ralf Rangnick..
He has been one of the top coaches in every involvement he has had in the game, not only in coaching. He’s made some radical changes in some areas and he’s a really interesting person in the footballing world, and a really interesting appointment for the club.
 
on his record against Man United…
The confidence that we have to prepare the matches to win, and we first of all have to respect the opponent that we will have in front of us, but with the end goal, the mindset, the confidence, the desire to win the game and have that belief straight away.
 
on whether he expects United to line up similar to how they did against Chelsea…
I don’t know, obviously they are different games. You’re playing Chelsea away, and they have phases in the game - I don’t think they were that defensive for the whole game. Sometimes you want to do something against Chelsea with their ability, and you cannot do it because of the quality they have and the solutions they can find to every problem you try to create. I expect a very lively atmosphere and a team that wants to come out.
 
on whether he expects Cristiano Ronaldo to start…
I don’t know, that is the manager’s decision.
 
on Aubameyang's position
Well, the form of Auba is always going to be related to the goals that he scores. He does many other things apart from scoring goals, but obviously, we need that contribution because goals are critical for our success. That's been shown in the last few years when we've been able to do that and that has to be his aim, to continue to do all the things that he's doing and then, in the right moments, put the ball in the net.

on if the club has an out and out number nine...
I think with Laca it's a little bit different. I think Laca is more comfortable playing there. Auba has played in both positions throughout his career. I think the formation that we play allows him more freedom to attack certain spaces more often and the defensive duty changes a lot from one formation or the other, and that's something to consider, depending on the players that play alongside him.

on Kieran Tierney and Nuno Tavares...
That's the level that we want to achieve, that in every position we have players that can perform at the highest level and can complement each other by giving you different qualities as well. Last year when we had an issue with Kieran, when he was out for a while, we had to invent and play players in that position, and that's something that obviously we want to eradicate as much as possible. And that's why we made the decision that we made in the summer, to try to fill the gaps that we have and make the team stronger. It's only about that. Kieran hasn't played in a lot of games because he was still injured and in others, because once Nuno played and played well, I think he deserved the chance to continue playing.

on the surprise around Manchester United's issues...
Well, it shows the competition and the league that we are involved in. That any team can cause a problem, that it's not as simple as putting names and numbers in there, it's much more than that. Undoubtedly the quality that they have, and you haven't mentioned the other three or four of them that can play in that position, it's incredible and it's why that club has been so successful as well.

on if the one thing missing so far this season is an away win against the top six...
Well, it is because we lost against Manchester City and we lost against Liverpool. It's true that we beat Leicester, who have been one of the teams in that range in recent years, but obviously that's what we want. To go to any ground and have to confidence to go out there against the top teams and beat them.

on replicating last season's win over Manchester United...
Absolutely and that's what we have to try and do. It's not about winning once. I think when we won last year, Arsenal hadn't won there for seventeen years so obviously, that cannot happen if we want to be at the top level.

on speaking to Per Mertesacker about Ralf Rangnick...
We try to gather information to understand more what to expect. We didn't know if he was going to be sitting on the bench or if he was taking training sessions, so in terms of the preparations, it was a little bit trickier than usual because you don't really know the influence that the new coach is going to have.

on Bukayo Saka...
Well, we're not going to risk our players if we believe that that can obviously go against us. Playing with an injury means that he may have to leave the pitch and when someone has to leave the pitch, I believe that he's injured, even though he's willing to continue. That injury can be 24 hours, 72 hours or a year. Bukayo is really willing. He's been preparing for the last two days because he wants to play and let's see how he is.
 
on Martinelli’s gametime…
It’s part of the pathway. I understand that we want to play all the players, but we can only play 11 of them. We have such a young team and we have to find the right pathway with the right timing within the pathway because it can look in a different different way and I think it’s very clear what we want to do with Gabi. His determination is absolutely top and he will continue to do that. He has the capacity to start games, no doubt about it.

on Tierney starting on the bench…
It was a tricky one and after what happened at Anfield and some individual errors that we had, we have to be very careful with the messages that we send to our players. I encourage my players to play with courage, to take risks, to make decisions and to be on the front foot and when they do that, if for any reason things don’t go our way or somebody makes a mistake, that’s when you have to show trust in the player because you want to build confidence and resilience. It’s not only for the player that’s playing, it’s also for the player that’s not playing to understand that part of that decision is to support and in their case, if it happens to them, I will do exactly the same thing. It’s something that we have to build and with young players even more, because if not, they can get very confused. I have full confidence in him.

on heading into the transfer window in a good position…
I just trust in the players that we have and try to make them as good as possible and try to make them improve the team and try to be more and more consistent. If we play better we’ll get better results, that’s it.

on whether the fans can expect the club to do any business…
We are in discussion. We have talks every week about it, how we can improve the team, and what things can happen in the January transfer window that can effect our squad. As you know, we have certain players with a little bit of uncertainty in the summer so we have to plan what’s going to happen now and what’s going to happen in the summer. A lot has to be done, we know and we don’t expect big things to be happening, but we need to be very alert in the market to see if we can improve the team. We have to be prepared because things can happen and injuries can arise in this period of the season and you have to be prepared and planned.

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