Press conference

Arteta on Smith Rowe, White, Brighton and more

Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta was back in front of the media on Thursday to look ahead to our trip to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Read on for a full transcript of what he said: 

on playing Brighton...
It will be a really difficult game. They've been on a really good run. They are playing well and getting the results that they deserve. It's a really competitive match that we are looking ahead to and we know the importance of it.
 
on doing the double over Brighton last season...
That's a different season with different momentum and we should not focus on that. We should just focus on how we're going to get prepared to have the best possible performance and after that try to win the game.
 
on Granit Xhaka...
Obviously, it's really bad news personally for Granit. He's had a couple of incidents already this season with Covid, with suspension and now with long-term injury. He's a strong man and he will use this time to focus on other things and I'm sure he will be back in the right place when he's back. Obviously, he's a big player for us, someone who is really important, and he will be missed. Other players have to step in.
 
on Brighton's strong start...
They deserve it. [Graham Potter] changed a little bit their way of playing and they've been getting good results and they've been very consistent in the way that they play. Credit to them and they're doing a good job.
 
on Granit Xhaka...
First of all, it's obviously a significant injury but he probably escaped an even worse injury than he could have had from the action because that action for the cruciate ligament is a tricky one. It's what it is. His mentality is top. He knows what he needs to do now. Hopefully, he can escape surgency as well. That is something that is really, really important and after that start preparing himself in the best possible way because time flies.
 
on the feeling this week...
Obviously, it was a special match, winning in front of your fans and as you said, the way we did it. We did it in a convincing way and getting the result that we wanted. Enjoy it for a little while. Now we need to put that aside and all our focus now should be on Brighton. We have experienced a beautiful day with our people and we want another one after Brighton and we have to earn that. The best way to do it is to focus on that game because there are things that we should improve on as well from the Spurs game.
 
on the long-term plan...
The plan is in place but the things that really matter for the plan to evolve and develop is the present and we have to focus on what we're meant to do in the present because the rest has already been designed, planned and thought about. What is going to allow us to do that is just the present, so we have to focus on that.
 
on Aaron Ramsdale and Bernd Leno...
Everybody has to raise the level and that's really positive and is happening in different positions. You can see when players are coming in now, they are fully ready to take the place. Now it's going to happen with Granit and before it happened when he was suspended, and it's happened in other positions. Players are coming up and showing that they are ready because the way they train and the way they play is top so after they get rewarded when they have the minutes.
 
on Ben White...
Well, I've been very impressed with how he handles the pressure and how he's handled the situation of coming through the Euros and paying the big fee and the composure and the calmness that he's shown. And as well, the willingness to learn, to improve, because he's realised that he is still really young, still in the development process and there are things that he can improve. We are already enjoying [our time] together and we have to continue like that.
 
on the fans...
I've always said that I've been here for 18/20 months and for 16 or 17 of those months, we haven't had our people with us. It's impossible to build anything [like that] because they are the biggest part of our foundation and when they are with us and when they are embracing what we are doing, you see the difference because they are able to create momentum and create the energy and the passion that they did at the weekend and when that happens, the team responds.

on being nominated for PL Manager of the Month…
It is the beauty of this sport, we all know that. We all depend on results and perspective changes quickly in both ways, so you always have to be on your toes.

on whether it will be a rollercoaster this season...
Hopefully not! This is what we want to avoid, we don't want that, we want to stable and consistent in performances, which will lead to results. We know this league is so competitive, anybody can beat you, anybody can put you under difficulty. You have to be on your toes because any detail can change any moment.

on Ben White and Gabriel's partnership...
They played really well at the weekend, the understanding is getting better and the cohesion among the back is getting better, the more they play it will keep improving. We have different partnerships that will work, but certainly they played well at the weekend.

on Emile Smith Rowe's potential...
We will see, he is very good right now and he can still get much better. There are things in his game that he must improve and develop and he is so hungry to do that. It will depend on how the team is helping, we can help his confidence and his head, how he takes the next step and how he handles praise and how he handles negativity and pressure as well.

on how he compares Emile with Jack Wilshere...
It's exciting that people are seeing our academy with the potential to become big players for the club. That is already a joy that they believe that, because we believe they have the potential to do that and now that potential has to become reality and fulfil it.

on whether clubs will sit down with players to discuss being vaccinated...
We have tried it in various ways, at the end the decision is by the player because they are not forced to do it. Obviously it will be extremely helpful for the clubs if the players can do that because it wouldn't restrict their mobility and wouldn't restrict their ability to compete with the clubs, who are responsible for paying them and looking after them, and play the majority of the games in the season with them.

on losing the feeling of the club being near a crisis now...
I think that feeling is very necessary at a big club because every defeat is a crisis and it should be a crisis, and you have to deal with that pressure. If you want to be the best you have to cope with that and realise that excellence is the only way and the only thing that is expected. Anything else isn't good enough. 

on whether it adds extra pressure when one defeat is greeted like that...
It is the history we have. We have a great history because we have that competitive edge, that mentality as well and that willingness to look further and have that ambition. To achieve that you need to be able to deal with that.

on how much of a blow it will be to lose Granit...
It is a big, big loss and we will lose him for a while but we will try to keep him as close as possible to the team. He will evolve and develop in other areas. This is the first big injury he has had, we are here to help him and I am sure we will find other ways around the team because we have other really good players who will step in and do the job.

on whether one of those is Ainsley Maitland-Niles...
Ainsley is certainly one of the options. We have used him quite a lot since the start of the season, he is doing really well and I am pleased with what I have seen from him.

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