Press conference

Arteta on 'one of the best wins', Saka, Laca

Mikel Arteta says our victory at Wolves was "one of the best" of his reign as our head coach.

We sealed a big three points thanks to goals from Bukayo Saka and Alex Lacazette, and afterwards the boss faced the media.
 
This is what he told them:
 
on where does that rank in his wins as head coach...
That is probably one of the best because of the difficult schedule that we had compared to them in terms of the recovery. And for how well they have been doing for the whole season and because of COVID-19. To come here and win the way we have done today is not an easy thing to do, it's another step forward in our process so I am really happy today.
 
on answering questions about the mentality of his side…
No, I said after Brighton that I was very, very happy with the effort. I never denied the effort and the intention that they were putting in. It's that we cannot give anything to the opponent and that's about competing for 100 minutes in these games and we have to evolve in that. Hopefully we are doing much better and that will give us a better chance to win football games.
 
on the Leicester and Tottenham matches defining our season…
Every game we have no margin for error and we knew that. We try to win every game if we can and let's enjoy tonight a little bit and then tomorrow we can starting thinking about Leicester and try to go again.
 
on if he feels in the race for the Champions League spots…
I am in the race to try and win against Leicester and then let's see what happens. Two weeks ago it looked impossible and we know the fixtures that we have in the next few weeks... we try to improve as a team every time to give us a better chance, the better we play the better we compete. At this level of intensity if we play like this against any team we will make it hard from them and then we will see.
 
on the character of his side…
I think the reason we can win against any team is because at the moment we are enjoying suffering together. In difficult moments, if you can enjoy doing that then you will get rewarded because we have the ability afterwards to hurt teams. At the moment, we don't have the ability to batter teams for 95 minutes. If you are not able to do that you have to be very able to compete and be a team. A team means that the 11 who started and all of the subs really make a difference in the game.
 
on why Saka played on the right…
Well, I had a lot of doubt about what to do before the game. So the moment we have a situation with Nico, it was clear. I was trying to find something with Bukayo in that position. It is true that in the first half he had some moments where he struggled but then he started understanding things better after 20 minutes. He scored a really good goal but I really liked the way he kept trying and trying and trying rather than putting his head down and being disappointed.
 
on the physical test of fixture congestion…
I don't want to talk about that, it's all in our head. We have everybody ready. You can see the players on the bench, how ready they are to come and make an impact. It's clear that we have to rotate the players if we want to get the maximum [out of them] and we have to protect them as well. Whoever is available is welcome and we will use him.
 
on the defensive improvement…
You can see all the teams that are in the title race, that win the championship, the amount of clean sheets that they need in order to do that. The more we improve here, the more solid we are, the more chances we are going to have to win football games. It's simple, obviously we still have a lot of things to improve in our attacking patterns, the way we use the spaces, the way we read the other team, but that will come. This was down to 11 players defending every time the ball was at the opponents' feet.
 
on if the group is closer together now…
Since I've joined, I've seen some really good things about how they treat each other and how much they enjoy being together. I think they understand more what we are looking for from them, what we expect from them and this always brings the team together because as I said to you before, when you suffer together and you see your teammates giving absolutely everything for you, someone makes a mistake, the other one puts it right... It makes you feel proud to be where you are, and that's slowly why we have to try to evolve and get better and do it in a very consistent way. 
 
on whether the team is closer together now…
To be fair, since I joined I’ve seen some really good things about how they treat each other and how much they enjoy being together. I think the understand more now what we are looking for from them and what we expect from them, and these wins bring the team together because as I’ve said to you before, when you suffer together and you see your teammates giving absolutely everything for you, someone makes a mistake and the other one puts you right and it makes you feel proud of what you are. That’s slowly what we have to try to do. We need to work on getting better and then do it in a very consistent way.
 
on Saka’s first Premier League goal and whether it will be the first of many…
Hopefully, yes! He has the ability to do that. He’s very neat when he gets in the opponent’s box, whether that’s to produce an assist or finish an action. I think the move was really good too. He was in the right spot at the right moment and it was a very important goal.
 
on securing our first away win over a team above us in the table for five years…
We just try to inspire them, but it’s not me. Unfortunately I cannot help them much, it’s them that make all the decisions on the pitch and the way they fight and believe. In certain moments we knew that physically we couldn’t maintain the moments that they had because of when we played, but they believed and when you believe and you’re happy to do the work, you get rewarded. I’m really happy with the win today.
 
on Laca scoring his first Premier League away goal in 18 months…
Well, he really needed that, but when I asked him to come in, in three seconds he was ready to jump on the pitch. Things like this happen and he had a great movement of the ball, a great touch and a great finish. We need to give him more opportunities to be able to do more of that, but I’m so happy for him because he completely deserves that for the way that he trains and plays every day.
 
on Mustafi finding form…
We try to help every player to improve, first of all to feel that we trust them. They can make mistakes, of course, but if they are willing and they are happy to try again, I think they will get the rewarded and Musti’s attitude, his training, attention levels, the questions he’s asking and how much he wants to help everybody has been really good since I joined. I think it’s a consequence of his performances.
 
on Xhaka becoming a vital part of his midfield…
Yeah, he was pivotal today and I think him and Dani dictated the game really, really well for the first 45 minutes. And then when the game plan changed a little bit and we suffered, they read the situation really well and gave the team exactly what they needed. They had to manage the game but in times they did it with great maturity and I know his character, he’s a great personality and he’s so focused that he deserves to be helped and then when he puts in performances like today, the team is really happy with him.
 
on whether he’s now more vocal on the touchline during behind closed door fixtures…
Yes, because now they can hear me, or they pretend to hear me at least! With 60,000 it’s much more difficult, but that’s the way I like to coach. Sometimes it’s probably too much for the players, but we just try to help them.
 
on what he tried to tell Dani Ceballos during the game…
It was just to try and make him aware all the time of the situations that are happening on the pitch and try to help him to make the best possible decisions.

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