Press conference

Arteta on reacting, Saka, Mari: full transcript

Mikel Arteta admitted his players are still hurting following our Europa League exit - but has praised their reaction to the Olympiacos defeat.

Our head coach was facing the media ahead of our Emirates FA Cup fifth-round clash against Portsmouth, and discussed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka and more.
Read on for a full transcript:
on the reaction of the players…
Well we trained today. We are all very down, frustrated, disappointed, but my message to them was that I am right behind them. I thanked them for the effort they put into the game, for the attitude and the personality they played with and the way they reacted after we conceded the goal. We tried, tried and tried again and completely deserved to win the game but there were aspects of the game that we have to dominate better if we want to keep competing at that level.
on how he will lift the players' spirits…
It is part of the profession. We can fall and have disappointments, it is about how we react individually and collectively. Then my job is to try to convince them that in the process in which we are at the moment, there are a lot of positive things and as well things we have to improve if we want to much better as a team. So, that is the way.
on how Aubameyang has reacted to the defeat…
He was gutted. Obviously he scored a wonder goal that was putting us through in the competition, and with the last kick of the game, he had the best chance of the game. He felt very responsible about it, we will try to be right behind him. He has been phenomenal all season for us and now the players have to support him, I think his reaction after the game - to face the media and the way he talked, it was a very mature reaction from him.
on the reasons for our slow starts to games…
The first 15 minutes I wasn't happy with the ball speed, everything was a little too safe, too slow. Obviously the ball is different as well [and] they were playing really deep as well, didn't want to make a mistake as you have a goal in hand, but as the game progressed we were getting better and better and better and completely dominated the game. We played in the opposition's half for 65 minutes or 70 minutes I think, but we found a way to score the goal and then the game management is another aspect we have to improve a lot. We have a lot of young players, but we have to learn quickly.
on Bukayo Saka and if he thinks he might get an England call-up...
I don't know. He deserves a lot of credit for the way he is playing, because he is playing with a lot of courage as well. You could see the other night that in difficult moments he wanted to make an impact and he wanted to make risky decisions to try to generate goals. And that's been him. He's been very consistent with his performance, which at that age normally is not a common thing, but yes, I'm really pleased with him.
on whether he will get an England call-up...
I don't know. That's not up to me to decide.
on Kieran Tierney...
He is much closer. He is evolving really well. He feels fit. He feels confident now. He's doing the stuff with contact, so hopefully we can have him soon.
on whether Kieran will be available for Monday's game...
As soon as I don't know when! Whenever we decide.
on Pablo Mari and whether he's in contention to play against Portsmouth...
Yes, I think he need minutes, like Rob did, like Ainsley and like Reiss as well. I think it was a good game for them to get their fitness levels tested  as well and they trained today really well. They are all, I think, ready to play.
on the Emirates FA Cup and what it means to this club...
It's really special. It's probably once of the nicest games and days of the season when you play the final day in England, at Wembley, nice weather and an incredible atmosphere. And you know, it's a trophy that's been very much linked with our history. So we want to continue to be attached to that, knowing that on Monday night in Portsmouth, it will be tough.
on whether he's wished the women's team luck...
I haven't had the chance to speak to [Joe Montemurro] but just keep doing what they're doing. They've been tremendous, we are so privileged to have such a good team in our club and all our support and luck to them.

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