Press conference

Arteta on… Palace, Willian, Leno and more

Mikel Arteta faced the media on Tuesday to preview our penultimate game of the season at Crystal Palace.

Our manager discussed a range of subjects including David Luiz, William Saliba, Willian, Bernd Leno and more.

Read on for a full transcript from the press conference:

on the latest team news…
No big changes. I think everybody is fit apart from David, let’s see how Granit is as well, but for the rest I think they are okay.

on taking the momentum from the Chelsea game into Wednesday’s match…
Yes, we have been much more consistent in the last few weeks in the Premier League, which is really positive. We have two games to go and still things are mathematically possible, so let’s try to get the best outcome possible.

on putting pressure on teams above if we win…
That’s all we can do at the moment, it’s not in our hands. But what we can do is win our two remaining games, which is possible, and see what happens.

on if it would be a successful season if we qualified for Europe…
I think to have a successful season at this club, you have to have trophies in your hands.

on Palace having fans back and whether we can feed off that…
It doesn’t matter [that they’re supporting Palace], it’s still great to have fans. We are going to be lucky enough to have fans back for our last game, which we can’t wait for and to have fans there will make the atmosphere much better, and back to how this game has to be played.

on Roy Hodgson…
He is an absolute legend. What he has done in football, for English football, what he transmits as a person, as a manager, the work he has done at different clubs, I think it is remarkable. To keep doing it for so long, with the way he has always conducted himself, I think it’s a great example for me as a young coach - he is someone I admire.

on David Luiz leaving at the end of the season...
He is a player that has won everything in football and has earned every right to do so because of who he is as a player and as a person. I had the privilege to work with him for 18 months, which I really enjoyed. We got on really well, we had some great moments together, he has been really helpful, someone that we really like and appreciate so much, so I just say thank you to him and wish him the best of luck in his next chapter because I am sure, knowing David, that he will have many more to come as a player, and in the future, somehow related to the game.

on Willian...
First of all we signed a player with an incredible talent, a proven talent and performance level in this league, and this season has been difficult and I take full responsibility because I have to be the one getting the best out of him and we had moments but not to the level that he did before. This is an assessment that we will do individually with the players and with Edu, the board and the ownership to make the right decisions for the future.

on whether he'll remain at Arsenal...
Every player that is under contract is very likely to be here with us next season.

on what a strong finish to the season will do for us...
Winning creates a different environment around the place. It creates much more belief. When you start to get on a run and you start to understand why this run is happening, it always helps to build for the future. A new season is a new season, and to get momentum from one season to the other is not necessarily what is going to happen. But certainly it's really good to analyse performance and result-wise why those things happen. It's really important for us to make the improvements we need for the following season, and to know which keys we have to touch to make it work better.

on Harry Kane...
I suffered him both ways: as a player and as a manager. I think English football should be so proud to have someone with his talent, with his quality and as well with his consistency. I think what he's been able to do over the years in that position in this league, it's incredible. The national team has someone to lean on and it gives you the opportunity to compete against any team because you know that he can win the game for you at any moment. That's big words in football.

on how important clarity is at board level for a manager...
I think if I've been something, it's honest. Probably once I was too honest. So if I cannot see something or I have doubts, I will say it. Now I have no doubts. It's so clear and it's a very clear statement from the ownership, very clear direction from the ownership, very clear direction with what we want to do. There's zero question marks there.

on what David Luiz is like as a character...
When you get to know the person, his background, where he was raised in Brazil, what he's done to get to this point, it's remarkable. Then you understand a lot of these things have happened for a reason. It's not just an ability, a quality or determination, it's many other factors. I've really enjoyed learning from him. He's been very helpful every time with the team, and I feel sadness as well because you get attached to the players emotionally. First it's the player that we have to get the maximum out of, and then it's the person. When it gets to these stages, it's tough and it hurts because that relationship is now going to be going away at least in this space of not seeing him every day. Again, I have to say thank you to him.

on whose decision it was for David Luiz to leave...
We had very clear talks in the last few months. We already had a big decision to make last year when we had to extend his contract in a very difficult moment during the COVID world, the pay cuts and everything. We managed to extend that for one more season. He's given his best, I tried to help him as much as I possibly could, and the club did as well. After some conversations, we decided it's the best way to do it now.

on whether it will be William Saliba who replaces David Luiz or if we'll sign another player...
You will see in the summer, the possible replacement. William is our player for sure and that's the decision that we're going to be taking soon.

on reversing the record against the top six but suffering because of our poor run of form in November...
That run in November was crucial and determined - even with how consistent we've been after Christmas - that it would not be enough to reach the objectives that we wanted. I don't just put it down to that, because so much happened at the club and I believe in other factors as well that sometimes happened. Why the ball was going in or not in, or a decision, it's very small margins. With everything that has happened, if you analyse where we are and where we could be, it's not that far away. But certainly it's not enough.

on Harry Kane and whether Arsenal will try to buy him...
I don't know if Harry Kane is leaving Spurs. I think he is still there.

on whether it saddens him a bit that Arsenal aren't considered to have the financial power to sign a player like Harry Kane if he is available...
I don't know, there are too many ifs. If he wants to leave, he will try to make the best decision for himself, I am sure.

on whether this is going to be a busy summer...
Yes, if I have to answer to every question about every possible transfer or what players might be leaving, we will be sitting here for hours. What I can say is that we know what we want to do and there is a clear plan to put that together. It's true that there are a lot of decision to make, because as well we have a lot of players on loan, some of them have to come back and we will see step-by-step and focus on the priorities that we have. Let's see how much we can do.

on what we have to work on next season...
I want to reflect now, in the next week or so when we finish but I'm sure we've done a couple of things wrong, 100 per cent now I can tell you that now before going through it. So how am I going to make much better decisions and get the best out of these players and get the best out of this football club and all the resources that we have? I have spent a lot of time and effort identifying critical points to change and then how those changes are going to be made, in which timeframe we could do them and I want to spend time building, creating and with all the foundations that we have in place now, evolving the club and everything in the way that we want to do. I want a preseason where we can work with the players and create. I'm a really creative person, I really want to create and evolve and a lot of the time since I've come here, I've been determined to make some very, very difficult decisions that I have to do. But I want to start doing more and more and more, because the capacity that we have to do it is incredible. I am so excited about that and I see that moment of a lot of change as a big opportunity for our future.

on being 'like a Picasso' of football...
I'm not saying that! I love to create, there are a lot of good things that we've done since we changed many things but there is still a lot to do. A lot to catchup, but our potential is incredible because I can see the ambition from the club and when we have that type of ambition, we have an incredible margin to achieve what we want.

on if we will see long-term managers again like Roy Hodgson...
Well, I think we can count them with one hand because of what's he's done and in this league in particular. It's honestly incredible.

on David Luiz leaving...
It's after a few conversations that we had, David and I. We discussed the situation on different occasions and the other day we made the final decision on it.

on if William Saliba will now get a chance...
Again, when we finish the season, we will sit down. We're still competing. We will sit down and discuss the roles of every member of the squad and how they can fulfil that role and he's our player so he'll be back here for sure. After that, we will make a decision based on the agreement of the role that each player is going to have in the squad.

on if William Saliba needed a loan move more than other players...
Yes. I would have liked for it to have happened at the start of the season. We had eight central defenders, which is unheard of, but we didn't find the right moment, the right club, the right agreement to do that and in my opinion, we could have used those four or five months in a better way. We tried to maximise it when we decided to keep him here until December and now he's had a run of games that he needed after the difficult year that he had in the previous season.

on if he's been able to track his development...
Absolutely, but we still have great people doing that. Ben Knapper is always in contact with him. He's the one creating every assessment. We are as a coaching staff, obviously following his progression, watching his games and in contact with him. It's not an ideal world to feel that you still belong here and you can have a face-to-face relationship, but we try to do it in the best possible way.

on Bernd Leno's future...
It's another one with a contract here that because of the length of his contract, a lot of things will be speculating. He has two years here and he belongs here.

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