Press conference

Arteta on team news, loanees and Liverpool

Mikel Arteta was back in front of the cameras on Thursday morning as he faced the media for his latest press conference.

A wide range of topics were covered, ranging from the latest on Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to discussing Saturday's opponents and paying tribute to Sergio Aguero.

Scroll down for a full transcript: 

on the situation of the squad after the international break... 
There are still a lot that I haven't seen yet. We will see them this afternoon and assess the squad tomorrow, see how everybody is feeling and make some decisions. But so far, no big news.

on no fresh concerns...
Not yet, no.

on Bukayo Saka...
He hasn't trained with the team yet. He's been doing some individual work. We had to pull him out of the England squad, unfortunately. He's feeling better, but he hasn't trained with the team yet.

on whether the break gave him a chance to assess what has and hasn't gone well recently...
Yes. Obviously we analyse periods during the season and we've done that now because we've had some time to think, to reflect and see a lot of the things that we are doing and as well, look at the direction we want to take in the future. Of course.

on the main areas we need to rectify at the back to improve...
One of them is related to the attention and focus that you need during the whole game. For example, the way we conceded the second goal against West Ham, where we turned our backs on a free-kick close to our box, is something that we cannot do. It just gives a goal to the opponent. And there's also the other face, that we really like, the way the team played and reacted, the character we showed and the quality that we provided on the day to come back against a really good opponent from three goals behind.

on not being able to take the same risks against a potent team like Liverpool...
Absolutely. Against these types of teams, with the quality that they have, they are going to punish you for every error that you do. Even when you don't make errors and you do everything perfectly, they are still able to break your lines, to create an individual action and to score a goal. Obviously, it is a team where nothing has to be given to them.

on whether he takes anything from the fact we are close to Liverpool...
I prefer to look at ourselves. What they have done in recent years has been incredible. Obviously the competition that they were facing with Manchester City made both teams better and I think they've been pushing each other to a different level, one that we probably haven't seen in the Premier League. That's the level that we have to reach to compete with them. This season is so different, in particular they have had a lot of issues internally with big injuries. But they're still amazing with what they've done.

on Emile Smith Rowe...
He has some discomfort in his hip and that's why they decided to keep him out. We will see today how he comes here, we will speak with the doctors and the physios and see if he is available for training tomorrow.

on whether the Slavia Prague games are more important than our league games...
The immediate priority is Liverpool. We know that if we want to climb the table and have a chance to be in Europe next season through the Premier League, we need some consistency now in the last nine games. We need to get on a run of winning matches and the only way to do it is to start against Liverpool. We don't have any margin and we have to win that game.

on what he puts Liverpool's struggles down to...
I don't know, I'm not the one to analyse what has gone wrong for them. I can talk about what they've done and what they're still producing and the stats will support that. They are, if not the best, the second best team in every department that we coaches have to analyse. But then this is football, the ball has to be in that net and the final action has to provide a moment to win a football match. Then you have some individuals that dictate the quality of your team. Sometimes you cannot predict those things, so I think it's a lot of things.

on Sergio Aguero's departure from Manchester City this summer...
First of all, I think anyone that has been close to Sergio would say the same thing. I think he's been probably the main face, or one of the three main faces, that have lifted that project. You need some leadership, you need some quality and you need players to create moments when you start to build a project like they did. Sergio is probably the biggest face of that project. It's not only the way he plays, it's his personality, his charisma, the way he is loved by everybody at that club. It's sad to see somebody leaving like him, but I think with what he's done he will be there in their history.

on whether Aguero can still score goals at the top level...
For sure. Sergio has a unique quality to see spaces that nobody else can see and to score goals in a really easy way so I'm sure that he will find the right next chapter for him. 

on if he will call him and ask him to move to London...
No, no. We will see what happens with him in the future. 

on if Thierry Henry was better than Sergio Aguero...
Well, he [Aguero] is one of the best for sure. The consistency that he's shown at this level and this league, I think it puts him right there with the best. We can discuss within the best, but for me, he's one of the best. 

on Sergio Aguero getting a statue...
I don't know. I think when a club wants to have a gesture of recognition to somebody that has changed their history, I think it's a really nice touch. Obviously, you cannot have the stadium full of statues but I think it's a really nice thing to do if it's the right one. 

on if beating Liverpool is the ideal way to regain confidence...
Absolutely. To get the moral right, to get the confidence right, to get some momentum. The more games that we win, the team is going to be in a better state to compete in other competitions. That's why my only focus is on Liverpool now. 

on if winning the Europa League is the best way of getting into the Champions League...
That's the other way. We don't know what the first way will be. It will depend on our results and our performances and we need to go game by game and try to maximise every chance that we have in each of those games. 

on Eddie Nketiah and the England Under-21 campaign...
I think the way the focus is at that age on development, they need results, of course, but it's true that [the Under-21s] have fed the England first-team squad tremendously well. That's when to reflect on some players needing time to adapt to that environment, to start to compete the right way like other players that were there a few months ago were doing. The coach has to get everything right and that takes time but I'm not worried about that. I think the way England is evolving as a nation in football and how much they have progressed over the years is remarkable. 

on whether we will play our own way against Liverpool this time around...
I think the game dictates that. I think sometimes you have to adapt to the opponent because they're just better than you and sometimes you can make the opponent adapt. Well see, depending on what they are able to do and what we are able to do as well. Obviously, the intention and the game we want to propose is different to the one that we played last year. When you play against top-quality sides, sometimes you have to be able to adapt your game to get the results that you need.

on following Jurgen Klopp's process of building a team to win trophies...
I don't like to compare different projects. I think what they've done is remarkable. It's been really intelligent. The way they managed resources and the way they have maximised resources has been exceptional. They've done it really, really well and now it is about sustaining that. We are in different phases of that project right now but we know exactly where we are and where we want to be and in the first one of two phases. We had some priorities that we had to address to be in a position to now evolve the squad, evolve the team and start to compete on a different level and this is where we are. 

on raising funds to bring in new players...
Obviously, we need support from everybody to try to do what we've done and so far we've had it. The commitment and the vision that we all share is unquestionable and we had a lot of meetings about that and we're all on the same page. We know where we are and we are very realistic about what we are. The things that we have done have consequences because it generates some instability that is necessary to make changes, but we need some stability now to grow and evolve in the way we want to do it. That time frame is the tricky thing because we need to win immediately. 

on whether players who have been sent out on loan will be brought back into the fold...
That will be the thing that we have to address at the end of the season. We loaned them out because we wanted to give them some game time and see the level that they can perform at away from here, try to develop them and then bring them back here to try to use them. That's the first idea. After, we will evaluate what they've done, the level that they've shown and how much they can accomplish with the way that we want to play and the squad that we have in our hands. 

on if he is happy with the performance of our loanees...
I am happier with some than others. You want to see your players play regularly and with some [players] that has not been the case.

on Alex Lacazette's good form...
I think he's been really good. I think he's been in really good form for months now. I think he's sustaining that level. He's scoring goals and he's providing the team with something different as well. His work rate has been phenomenal and it's what we want. We need those types of players hitting the best level and we want to have the chance to do that. Over the course of the season we have been missing goals, we've been missing that creativity in the final third and we need those players to step in and make that difference for the team.

on interest in Lacazette from other clubs....
I am always happy when people talk about our players and speculate on that. It means they are doing well and getting attention from other clubs. The situation with Laca will get addressed in the summer. I will speak to him and just propose a future that we want and that's it. Now I just want players focused and only focused on performing and getting the best out of them for the team. 

on whether giving Lacazette a big contract would make financial sense... 
Everything is related. At the end of the day, everything is related to where we are, how much we win and where we are playing next season. There are no exceptions and we all need to be clear with that and the context that we have around our industry.

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