Press conference

Arteta on the win, Aubameyang, Smith Rowe and more

Things could not have gone much better for Mikel Arteta and his side on Monday night as we beat Newcastle United.

Not only did we extend our unbeaten run, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got back among the goals, Thomas Partey was in fine form on his return to the starting XI and our youngsters flourished.
Afterwards our manager faced the media, and this is what he said:
on the performance…
Yes I am really pleased with the performance overall because collectively and individually it was really strong from the beginning. It took us longer than we wanted to score the first goal because in the first half we had some big chances as well, but overall the team looked confident, looked solid, looked compact and very clear about what we had to do, defending and attacking, so I am really pleased with the clean sheet, the goals, and overall the run and the momentum we have.
on Auba getting over the missed chances to score twice…
That is what he has done through his career and mentally you have to be really strong in order to do that, and come out of a difficult period where we miss his goals a lot and today he has come back and scored two and contributed to the team winning, which is exactly what we need. So I am really pleased for him.
on why he came off…
He had a little [stomach] problem and had to come off.
on the team showing patience…
It is part of understanding these types of games, and when the team is able to come out of these games with this result and confidence, it helps a lot for the next one because they know that the moment is going to come, that we cannot lose our structure, our organisation. Of course there were things, that at half time, we had to improve and do better, to be more consistent, quicker, more efficient in certain moments to attack. This is great information for us and for them it is great to believe against these structures we can outplay them, we can nullify them to do very little in our own box and we can come out and score three, four or five goals.
on Thomas Partey’s performance…
Yes, obviously we have been missing Tommy and he has this presence, this aura, that makes him a special player for us. Hopefully we can keep him fit because we can all see the difference he makes on the side and I think he was growing and getting better and better as the game was growing and evolving.
on how much the team's confidence has grown since beating Chelsea...
We always say that winning is the best thing for any collective team or any individual as well. But for us to get in the momentum that we are with the clean sheets - that was our fifth one in a row - we have managed to do that, the fact that we are scoring goals and everything is more fluent. The energy, the cohesion around the team and the spirit is better. So I'm glad, but we have to maintain that run and keep going. There are still a lot of things that we have to do better and improve but overall, I'm really pleased with how we're playing at the moment.
on Mesut Ozil being in Turkey but it not looking like we missed him...
Well, Mesut is in Turkey and he's going through the medical which has to be completed and there is some paperwork that has to be done. But it doesn't matter, Mesut's quality will be missed because he is a very special player that had a big history in this football club. And the deal, when it happens, I will give my clear opinion on that.
on Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka's current form and if it's an easy decision to play them rather than more senior players...
It's never an easy decision [to leave senior players out] because we're talking about big players. But at the end, I have to manage the football players who have moments in their career and in their season and to be fair, when someone is performing it doesn't matter what his profile or his age is. I think they deserve to play. They were really good again tonight and I am really pleased with what they are bringing to the team.
on whether the players who are being left out for them understand why...
Yes. The players that don't play are obviously never happy but what we ask them to do is to try to improve, to keep pushing everybody and when they have their opportunities to show that they're better than the ones that are playing and that we are wrong with our decisions. To be fair, everybody is training hard, everybody is trying to contribute and the ones that are not playing, their attitude and behaviour has been so far, so good.
on Ainsley Maitland Niles…
He needs to compete for his place like everybody else. There have been a lot of players who have been left out of the squad and they have less minutes. Ainsley has played some minutes in the league, he’s played a lot of minutes in the Europa League. He’s played in the Emirates FA Cup, he’s played semi-finals and finals for us so it’s about him, his performances and how much he wants to be in the team.

on Aubameyang’s substitution…
It was just a little stomach issue, that’s all.

on how tough it’s been for Aubameyang during our poor run of form…
Well, I don’t know. I had various conversations with him, to try to support him, help him, give him some guidance. At the end [of the day], internally, you are the one who suffers. To open up, it’s complicated. He takes a lot of responsibility, he’s very critical with himself and he knows his role in the team and how important he is for our success. But there’s only one way, work harder, put your head down, be humble and try to keep helping the team. That’s all.

on if he wants to give Thomas Partey more freedom to express himself…
Yes. He can do that, technically he is more than capable of doing that and he’s great in both transition moments as well. It will take him some time to understand a different way of thinking or doing [things] than what he was doing with the previous team he was involved in. He has all the characteristics that we need to make us better, that’s for sure.

on if he speed of thought will help Arsenal…
His dynamism, his physicality, his creativity and the presence that nature has given him. You have that person on the pitch and you are able to dominate a game when it is needed and Thomas has this quality.

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