Press conference

Arteta on Odegaard, Ramsdale, Chelsea: transcript

It’s been a hectic start to the season, and Mikel Arteta was in front of the media to go over the events of the past week.

He discussed the signing of Martin Odegaard, the latest on Aaron Ramsdale, how Covid has disrupted the squad and his plans for facing Chelsea

Read on for a full transcript:

on what Martin Odegaard brings to the squad…
Well a lot of things that he brought last season. He made us better, we needed more options, alternatives, creativity and players that can be morals for this football club. He is still a really young man but he has huge experience in different clubs already. He has a unique talent based on the way we want to play so I'm delighted that the club has made an effort and we have Martin on a permanent deal here.

on Aaron Ramsdale…
We will see, there is some paperwork getting done, he has his medical almost done as well, and there are still some things with Sheffield to be resolved, so we are going to have to wait.

on lifting morale this week…
Putting things in to perspective, We had an incredible 48 hours before that match. It created a big uncertainty and probably an unprecedented Arsenal line up. We tried everything that we had in that game, but it didn't work out. We knew the consequences of that externally, what it was going to mean, but internally the reaction has been incredibly positive. It's one day of Premier League football, we have the whole season ahead of us, and any negativity that's going to try and surround this football club is going to be out of these walls.

on feeling pressure…
If you don't feel pressure in football or any elite sport then I think you've picked the wrong profession. I think it's responsibility, not pressure, we have a responsibility to do our best under any circumstances. Unfortunately the circumstances are uncontrollable. The only thing that's going to happen is something you don't expect, that's for sure! Then you have to try to adapt, and do the best you can. The rest is about the results, and you know you are going to be judged on those results, but it doesn't mean you are doing a good or bad job because you win or lose football matches. 

on team news…
It's still very uncertain. I cannot give you any answer today, because I don't know if they are going to be able to train in a few hours, if they can compete at the weekend, I don't know.

on Chelsea…
Well from Chelsea we expect what they have done over the past few years, they are a top team, full of world-class players with a great manager. They are the champions of Europe. We expect a really competitive match, that's what I expect from our team. Our fans are going to be supporting our team, right behind them from the beginning because they have been missed so much, and we are going to go there to win the football match.

on stopping Lukaku…
I don't know if he's going to play, but I have a plan to try to stop what Chelsea do and a plan of what we have to do to win the game.

on players with Covid…
They had some tough days, Laca still hasn't trained so he's not been very good. But yeah, they were affected by the virus, and Alex [Runarsson] similar as well. So yeah they were ill.

on whether it came from a party…
I don't know where it came from, we can guess, it came from a week before, we had cases. We had three or four positives or negatives and then they are positives. We have no clue where it came from to be fair.

on vaccinations…
Most of them are double vaccinated, others have one vaccine. We are trying to encourage them to get vaccinated because they are going to protect themselves, their families and obviously the environment around the club. But it is a really personal matter, we are trying to guide them and explain the reasons why it is better to do it, but in the end it's a personal decision.

on his own message to get vaccinated...
Yeah but I think it's more powerful coming from the government. It's not about protecting ourselves, it's about protecting the people around us as well. I think it's a gesture of generosity. I don't know if some people were completely convinced at the beginning to do it, but you see the benefits at the moment are much bigger.

on Aaron Ramsdale and Bernd Leno…
Well, it’s what we want [having two good goalkeepers] and it’s always been the case at this football club, it’s nothing new. We’re going to have two different profiles at two different stages in their career. Aaron is a really, really talented young goalkeeper with already huge experience and an international for England, and he’s going to bring competition, which is what we want, to create healthy competition, quality competition in every position. We needed a goalkeeper there and he’s the ideal option.

on Chelsea and the importance of a result on Sunday…
Well, after that defeat, the best way to put things away is to win. Football matches when you win them, it creates a different context and a different environment and energy around the place. Our focus is to get the best possible performance and then the result will be a consequence to that. Our main focus has to be that.

on whether the past week has been his biggest challenge since being at Arsenal…
No, I think I’ve had bigger challenges since I’ve been here for 18 months, believe me. A lot of things have happened and we will look at them with perspective in maybe not now because a lot of people will not be interested to analyse what has happened, but in one year, two years, three years’ time, when we look back we will say ‘A lot of sense is what happened’.

on whether he was surprised that our game against Brentford wasn’t postponed…
Yes, I was surprised, but the regulators decided that the best thing to do was to play the game.

on whether he asked for the game to be postponed, and whether Lacazette and Aubameyang were in his starting XI…
What we did is what we had to do through the club, and the club doctor explained the situation, how it developed and the risks that we considered.

on what Martin Odegaard will bring and why Joe Willock was sold to Newcastle…
Well, we’ve seen Joe here for a long time in different stages of his career and Joe is a player that we valued and we liked so much. After that spell, obviously his profile changed, his ambitions personally changed, and the game time that he needed was very different to what we could give him in this moment. We made a decision together to decide the best way for his pathway in his career, and after that we lost Dani and we lost Joe and didn’t have Martin, so in terms of creativity in the team and options in that position, we were really short. You’ve seen the numbers and what we did after Christmas when Martin was in the team and we had people like Emile, the team performed at a completely different level. He’s someone that we admire and he’s still at the age in his career when the potential he has is still immense.

on why we should be excited about the signing of Aaron Ramsdale…
I think they’re going to love his personality, his character, the quality that he has as a goalkeeper and what he’s going to offer. I think he’s a young goalkeeper, but he’s got huge, huge potential.

on whether we will sign some more players…
There’s still 11 days to go and we still have things to do. There are going to be players at the moment with the way the squad is set up that are going to be difficult to find game time, so there are things to be done.

on why there was a delay in reports about Aubameyang and Lacazette having Covid…
Listen, I am always very direct and I try to give information that is right, but there are some policies and some medical privacies that I cannot forget. I have to protect the club and I have to protect the individuals, so if you ask me why I did it, that’s the only reason. For me it was simple, they have Covid, my best players have Covid, they cannot play and I have to put a team out there that’s unprecedented in this league and take all the pressure. For me it was very simple, but I cannot do that. The club will always be in front of me and individuals if it’s what they believe and we cannot give the right answers in the moment for different reasons, that’s what I will keep doing and I will do it again next time.

on if Covid regulations should change... 
Yeah, if you know that you have a hamstring injury, you can say obviously with permission from the player that you have a hamstring injury. When you don't know or you are not sure, or it can be something else, maybe worse - then you have to be really careful what you say. 

on if high spending this summer adds pressure this season...
We will see where we finish with the money that we have spent and what we have done in the last few years. We're going to have seven players that have left the club and five that are coming in, so we are not bringing in more players than we already have. It's already a big turnaround again and we're going to try and do it in the right way, so this club is stable. It is a clear indicator, the business that we are doing. The ages are between 21 and 23-years-old and it tells you the project that we are building. 

on a difficult start to the season...
We knew that from the beginning. You have to play 38 games against all the teams at the end of the season and it's the perception, the pressure and again, the negativity. I just want people that are constructive around me. I know that people have the intention to bury us and try to criticise us, but we are not interested in that. We have a lot of positivity and a lot of energy, new energy that is coming up. My full focus is on that and finding a way to beat Chelsea because we can, because we've done it. 

on his message to the fans...
Just what I described. That in moments when there are people and there is certain negativity around the place, you need your fans and your supporters more than ever. They've always been with the team and I have no doubt that on Sunday they're going to be right behind the team. If there is one thing that the team needs, it's exactly that. If they really want to help the team, there's not going to be a better medicine for them than to feel [the fans] very close with the right energy and supporting them and being behind them and the team is going to try their best. 

on Bukayo Saka's reception on Sunday...
[It will be] even better [than in previous games]. I think we all read and listened to what everybody around the world said about Bukayo but obviously, our fans are even more touched emotionally because they've seen him come through our academy and they know the person and the player [he is] even better so I'm expecting them to be right behind them.

on if Bukayo Saka is ready to start on Sunday...
Let's see how he is in the next few days. He felt good after the match the other day but he's in a better place. 

on if there is a new energy about the place after completing signings...
Well, we try to have the most positive energy around the place all the time. I like to always be positive. I love challenges and we had a challenge. I knew we had a challenge a year and a half ago with everything that was coming on. Just embrace it. Do the best that we can do every single day. Try to create the best possible atmosphere and context around this place and good things happen. 

on the London derby...
I can't wait for the game to be there and to have our fans back after 18 months without them at full capacity. This is what we are here to experience those moments and hopefully give them what they deserve. 

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