Press conference

Arteta on Pepe's red card and goalscoring

Mikel Arteta reflected on all the big talking points when he faced the media on a video press conference shortly after our game at Leeds.

Nicolas Pepe's red card and our need for more goals were high on the agenda, and you can scroll down for a full transcript.
 
Here's what Mikel said:
 
on whether he's happy with a point after going down to 10 men...
Yes we have to take a point considering the circumstances. I'm never happy with a point but we know what a challenge we faced in the second half for 45 minutes with 10 men. The way we reacted to it, the resilience that we showed, the effort that all the players put in to try and overcome their advantage, it was phenomenal. At the end we have to take a point because, credit to Leeds, they had chances to score.
 
on Pepe's red card offence...
It's very clear, it's unacceptable. It's unacceptable.
 
on Saka's injury...
He was in pain. We're going to have to assess with the medical staff how bad it is, but it looked like a pretty bad challenge and he was in pain so we decided to take him out straight away.
 
on playing Aubameyang through the middle...
In some moments it worked really well. We had a patch in the first half, a patch of 25 minutes when we were really good, efficient, we pressed high, we created some really good opportunities, and made it really hard for them. Then there was a spell in the 15 or 20 minutes of the first half where we started to give the ball away, we did not control certain spaces against them and they suffocated us, which they were always going to do. They did it against every team in the Premier League. It's impossible to dominate this team for 90 minutes. And then in the second half when you hope that you are going to get things adjusted and better, we go to 10 men and then obviously it's a mountain to climb.
 
on the importance of defensive solidity...
I think we've been working really good defensively. That flair, that creativity and that momentum that the players need to make the last action, it's the most difficult thing in football. It's not that you're not creating the chances, but we have to create more and we have to be more consistent in the final third with the amount of things that we finish and how we finish them. But it will come, and the reality as well is that we haven't had much continuity in a lot of the players for various reasons, which is very important to get the understanding right with them.
 
on whether Willian’s substitution was tactical…
He was feeling something muscular and we had to take him off.

on whether he’s concerned about our lack of goals from open play…
It worries me obviously because we need goals and we need a lot of goals to win football matches and to be the top team that we want to be - without that it’s impossible. It doesn’t matter how good we are defensively. It’s not a lack of attacking players that we have, because we have attacking players on the pitch all the time, but we need some moments where we have to make decisions earlier, better and they have to be more ruthless. But it’s the most difficult thing in football and sometimes we go through these patches and we have to overcome them and I have to help the players to do it as quick as possible.

on whether Pepe has apologised to him and the team…
I’m telling you what I think happened, but obviously inside I cannot share with you guys, but it’s the way I see it.

on whether he’s frustrated that Pepe fell for Alioski’s antics…
I don’t know, but we knew the level of intensity, aggression and how alive they are in every action and you have to be able to deal with that because it’s part of the plan against this team. You have to be able to handle this situation.

on what annoyed him most tonight…
I’m cross because I want to win and when I don’t win, I get upset. We had it really difficult for different reasons because we lost two players on international duty and we had a player that came who wasn’t in the condition to start. We lost two players to injury today and one through suspension and we have an incredible amount of games coming up, so the fact we need to score more goals obviously is a concern. But I’m also really happy because I know how much this team has evolved in a lot of things. The first one is our resilience, ambition and belief we showed while playing with 10 men and this is growing as well. It’s a positive thing, but there are things we need to get better at.

on whether we’re running out of players for the next match…
We will see what happens in the next few hours, but we will put a team there to compete in the way that we do now and every team is going to face challenges with the amount of fixtures we have. Let’s hope that we can get some back.

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