Press conference

Arteta on Watford, Mustafi and more: transcript

Mikel Arteta was back in front of the press for the penultimate time on Thursday, ahead of our final Premier League game of the season against Watford.

Our head coach discussed a range of issues including the Hornets, Nigel Pearson, Shkodran Mustafi and more.
 
Here's a full transcript:
 
on if this is chance for players to win a place at Wembley...
Absolutely, they try to do that anyway in training every day but I want to see the players that are in the best condition and the best mind-set to affect the game in the final day against Chelsea.

on balancing the decision to build momentum vs resting players...
No, I am going to assess the squad, how they're feeling, how everyone has recovered and ideally I want to play as strong a team as I can. We have to respect that there are a few teams in a relegation battle and we are responsible for that as well.

on Unai Emery being appointed Villarreal manager...
Well first of all congratulations for the new job. He's going back to Spain. He's a manager that has a lot of experience there a has been very successful there. I wish him all the best from our side. There are a lot of people here who liked him a lot and have huge respect for him. Thanks from myself for what he did here with the players and trying to improve to the team and the squad and I wish him all the best from our side. Hopefully, things will go well for him.

on if our players will give 100 per cent to win...
That's the way we will prepare the game that's for sure, we need to know the responsibility we have towards the other clubs and the responsibility we have wearing the shirt in any game. It has to be to win the football game and prepare so if mentally you are not ready, or your level of dedication is not 100 per cent, then you have a problem.

on the sacking of Nigel Pearson...
I don't know the decision behind that. Obviously, when the club made that decision it's to try and get the best out of the players but I don't know what happened and I cannot comment there.

on the job to get Arsenal back to the top...
I don't think the league table lies at the end of the 10 months with 38 games. How long? Hopefully next season it will be very different. We have a beautiful challenge, a very demanding challenge but a beautiful challenge ahead of us. We have to get this right and bring this club back to where it belongs which is with the top teams in the country and in Europe. In order to do that we have to make a lot of good decisions.
 
on whether he expected us to have such a say in the relegation battle...
As it was getting closer, it was looking like that with the results that were happening every week but you know, we have to do what we have to do and we can only be responsible for how we perform and approach the football matches. In the same way as I'm saying it's a reflection of what you have done in 10 months, after it cannot be just a reflection of what you've done in one or two games so I think it works the same way for everybody.

on how he feels about individual awards such as the golden boot...
For me, it's nice for the players to do that. It's an individual prize but at the end, the reward is a collective thing because everybody contributed to that reward. If we can help Auba to do anything with that, then obviously we're more than happy to do that but the collective side is always in front of that.

on whether he thinks Auba could get a hat-trick against Watford...
I don't know. First of all he needs to start the game and then we will see what happens.

on any injury updates...
No, no news.

on whether we will see it as 'revenge' to relegate Watford...
No. I think revenge or when you are annoyed and when you want to put things right is probably because you feel that what has been said is right. If you don't feel that it's right or it doesn't justify the way you approach the game or you fight, it doesn't have to affect you. So I think that's a very personal thing.

on whether he thinks Deeney shouldn't have said what he said...
I don't know. Every player is free to say whatever they want. I cannot comment on every opinion.
 
on why Arsenal have underachieved this season...
Because we haven't been consistent. Because we obviously had a lot of issues as well in the background, a lot of things that had happened. But at the end of the day, we weren't good enough to be with the top teams. That's not a lie and it shows the big room for improvement and the gap that is still there and has to be minimised really, really quickly in order to be in a good position to challenge those teams.
 
on whether it hurts to say that...
It hurts so much. When I said it's a beautiful challenge, and as well from my side, it's to bring the club into those positions again. I know how difficult it's going to be because you can see the other teams, what they're doing, what they've been doing the last few seasons. The road and the direction we have to take in order to be quick in that transition... I'm very positive that we're going to be able to do it.
 
on whether the players consider the FA Cup final to be the most important game left...
Yeah but the best way to prepare the final is to be 100 per cent focused on the next game, get the confidence back, get good momentum, and be physically ready to do that. When you're not, bad things happen all the time. We better be prepared.
 
on whether we'll see Ozil or Guendouzi again this season...
The rest is true that Musti is injured and we need to assess a little bit how long he is out. The other two [Ozil and Guendouzi] are available.
 
on whether Mustafi will be fit for the FA Cup final...
I doubt it. I don't know. We have to see how he evolves in the next few days. At the moment, I doubt it.
 
on whether he was surprised by Pep's criticism of Arsenal...
I am sorry but I'm not going to comment on that.
 
on whether he feels a sense of duty to the Premier League to field a strong side against Watford...
I think it is our responsibility. A strong side doesn't mean that players that have played less will not participate. For me, it's more about how we approach the game and how we go into that game to win the game. That is not 50/0, there is no lack of intensity, anything like that. We cannot do that.
 
on whether winning the FA Cup and finishing eighth is a good season...
No. For me, this club deserves the best and you have to be fighting for every title. Obviously after everything that happened, if we are able to win the final and qualify for Europe, we can say that it's OK. But it's not the level for this football club.

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