Interview

Arteta on Newcastle, Auba, team news and more

Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta came fresh from training in Valencia to fulfil his media commitments ahead of Sunday's trip to Newcastle United.

Our manager discussed the game, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and more. Read on for a full transcript:

on his assessment of the Villarreal game and how it affects preparations for Newcastle..
Obviously it’s not the result that we wanted, we managed to score an away goal which is important but at the end of the day, in a semi-final you need to win at least one of the games. So that is in our hands, to do it in our stadium and if we do that we have a big chance to get to the final.

on whether he will rotate for the trip to Newcastle…
Let’s see who is available. We had a really demanding game again, the boys have had so many minutes so we will assess them tomorrow in the training session and see how everyone is, and try to get the line-up right.

on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s fitness…
He hasn’t trained much, he is still not at the level in his physique that he should be to start. We will see again tomorrow how he is. Yesterday he could only play a few minutes but we managed to get him on the pitch, which is great news for us.

on what he expects from Newcastle…
From the position they’re in, they’re going to come at us, they’re a really organised team, they’ve been playing much better recently so it will be tough. The amount of games that we are playing, every team has the capacity to make it difficult for you.

on Joe Willock’s performances for Newcastle..
It was a difficult decision to let him go because we really like the player, but he needed more game-time and needed this type of experience. He has stepped in at big moments for them and scored some crucial goals so that is really good news because it is great for his development.

on the belief that the gap can be closed or whether he's now having to prioritise the Europa League...
Well, the Premier League is the competition where it is not in our hands to achieve what we wanted to do, because there are other teams in front of us. The only thing we can control is our performances and results and this is our main focus. Then we know that the semi-final is the crucial moment of the season.

on Nicolas Pepe's contributions in the Europa League...
I think he's come a long way in the last few months. His work ethic has been phenomenal and he's deciding many more games and doing what he can do in the final third in a much more consistent way. So I'm really happy with his performances and now he needs to continue like this.

on Pepe's confidence and how much it affects his game...
Well, confidence in every player is crucial and every time you step on that field, if they feel secure, if they feel protected, if they feel like they're supported by their manager and their teammates, it's something that is crucial to be able to perform. Then with the things that he could do better, he's doing much better with as well. But it's all a mix that is reflected in his performance.

on Bernd Leno bouncing back strongly against Villarreal...
Again, errors are part of football and we all make them. It's how you react after that and I think Bernd had the right reaction last night.

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