Press conference

Arteta on Mari, Cedric, Dubai: full transcript

Mikel Arteta is back in England - and back in front of the media.

Our head coach discussed our recent training camp in Dubai, as well as updates on Pablo Mari, Cedric, Bukayo Saka and more at his press conference ahead of the Newcastle game.

Read on for a full transcript:

on what we were working on in Dubai…
It was like a mini pre-season for us in Dubai, we had time to work on a lot of our principles: how we want to set up against different formations, the relevant things we need to work on [both] on and off the ball and apart from that it was great to be together and spend some time together, get to know each other, not just the players but the staff and the backroom staff as well. It was a very productive trip.

on maintaining the players' morale…
We take it game by game. The input, the work ethic and the commitment they have been having through training and games has been really good. They know how crucial it is going to be in the next three to four weeks and until the end of the season. They are very aware of that and have a really good mindset towards that, they are highly motivated.

on Pablo Mari’s fitness…
Pablo has not competed since the end of December I think, he had a little issue, but he has been training with us the last week or so, in and out a little bit, but he has been looking good. I think this game will come a little bit too early for him but I expect him to start joining the squad in the next week or so.

on Cedric…
He is very disappointed because when you join a new club you want to make an impression straight away. He had an issue in his knee, it is not completely healed yet and he hasn’t been training with us so I expect him to be back in the next couple of weeks but I can’t give you a date.

on Kieran Tierney…
He is doing very good progress but we need to wait for the bone and the attachment to the tendon to heal before he can make any contact. He has been training, his work ethic is incredible, I have been really impressed with him so hopefully we can get him back soon but we need to be a little bit patient with him.

on whether we achieved he wanted during the winter break…
I wanted to give them a few days rest because they went through a lot of things in the last few months. After that, we reflected on what we did together in the last five or six weeks since I joined, the  things we improved and are very positive and we have to maintain, and also the things we need to improve and develop. We worked really well, we agreed and set some targets and we have started to work on them and hopefully we can see the outcome in the next few weeks.          

on planning for the summer and if he's started to plan already...
Absolutely. We have to plan and we need to know the direction we want to head and with that we need to bear in mind different scenarios and with that in mind, I have to tell the club what we need, where we think we can improve and where we want to end. And if we all end with the same thing, we put a plan together to try and execute it and make the process as short as possible.

on the coronavirus outbreak and what precautions are being taken...
We have great doctors here and people who are looking after our health. They've been putting a plan together to try and keep everybody in safe hands and we have some protocols that we have to respect within the training ground. But as far as I know, everything is under control but we have to be very aware.

on Bukayo Saka and whether we're trying to sign him to a new contract...
I am really happy with how they [young players] are developing. Part of that developing is to improve the contract and to tie them to the club. But that has to follow a natural process. We have Edu, we have Raul, Vinai and Huss who are in charge of that and I am sure we will do the right thing when players deserve to improve and extend their contracts.

on whether scoring goals or not conceding goals is more important to him...
It's winning. Obviously, that game for the crowd [the 7-3 against Newcastle] is great but for the manager it's not great because balance-wise we suffered. But I love scoring goals for sure. I love attacking football, but I like attacking football where you control what the opponent does to you in your own box.

on whether he's had to sacrifice attacking flair for defensive solidity...
I don't think so. I think we have to generate some defensive stability, but not by defending deep. I don't like that. It's by defending high and pressing the opponent as much as possible. But the process - together as many times as possible in the most efficient way - has to be done properly from here. If not in two passes when you arrive there, that transition is impossible to control because you are too far from the opponent. So we need to do that well first to after be able to generate and sustain our attacks as many times as possible during the games.

on whether he or the players have noticed Unai Emery's comments about them...
Towards our players? I haven't read anything.

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