Press conference

Arteta on... the win, Pepe and Balogun's debut

Mikel Arteta

Three goals in quick succession gave a much-changed Arsenal side another Europa League win on Thursday, and Mikel Arteta was a happy man at the final whistle.

Here’s what he told the media afterwards

on our performance before and after the goals...
I'm really pleased with the way we went about the game. It's always a danger that you feel it could be a comfortable game and then you make it really complicated. That wasn't the case. I think our attitude from the beginning was spot on. We knew they were going to use a really low block and what we had to do, I think we did it better [than against Rapid Vienna]. We were insistent in the way we attacked. We generated a lot of situations in the box and we got the right goals in the right moments. After that, we could manage the situation. Overall, the fact that we gave the chance to a lot of players who haven't played many minutes this season is something that's really positive because they showed that they are well prepared, they are at it and they are ready when we need them.

on resting the 'big' players...
We had everybody involved because we know how these games can turn around but obviously there are a lot of games coming up. It's not because they don't deserve to play, it's because there are a lot of players who needed minutes and opportunities. We used them, they've done well, so now let's prepare for Old Trafford. 

Oo what he made of Dundalk...
I didn't know how they were going to play. They've been playing 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1 all season and I knew they could come here after what I'd seen the last few weeks, and then play with five at the back. We were prepared for that but they are a really committed team. The way they go about every ball, they try hard and credit to them for what they've done in the last few months. I'm happy to beat them. 

on Dundalk trying to play from the back...
I think it's their style, it's their philosophy and the fact that they tried to do it shows the personality that their coaching staff have and how much the players believe in them. I think that's a really positive thing to show, that it doesn't matter where, they can adapt the way they play. Again, their style of play doesn't change. 

on whether any of tonight's team have staked a claim for a place v United...
Yeah they are always in the frame to play. It's not because we lose or win, it's what they bring to the team, how they play and what they have shown. The results at the end are the consequences of many things but individually how they do things is what determines whether they have the opportunity to play or not. 

on Joe Willock...
They [Joe and Reiss] looked good tonight and always looked like threats. They looked like they could do something different in the game to change it. They were good around the box, they were creative, they had courage to make the right decision in the right areas. I'm pleased with both of them. 

on Granit Xhaka at centre back...
We need one or two players who are able to drop into that position in the way that position looks at the moment. We need to try them and the best way to try them is obviously in training, but sometimes you have to do it in games so they have a taste, the feeling and the confidence to do it as well. It was good that they got through that, got the clean sheet and obviously that will bring them some confidence as well.

on Nicolas Pepe and whether he feels the pressure of his price tag...
I don't think he's got that. I think he's so willing to do well and show everybody - first of all, his team-mates and myself - and also the fans that he is a player that can make the difference every week. Obviously, he's not been first choice in a lot of the games at the moment but, to be fair, he's played quite a lot of the moments, some better than others. It's about finding the consistency. Not through the games, but during the games as well to be most instinctive and to be able to do the right things in many, many occasions where he has to make the right decisions on the pitch.

on what he thinks Pepe is missing...
It's nothing to do with his attitude. He's a player that takes risks. He's a very creative player and this is the most difficult thing in football, when they all know what you can do as well and how much they want to prevent your space and the overloads that they generate to defend you as well. So to create situations for them is complicated, but sometimes it's the simple things: the deliveries, the amount of situations he is able to create or attract and then make the right decision to keep evolving that final ball, the finishing, the positioning inside the box which he has to be more consistent at. We are working on that and hopefully he will be doing that much more efficiently.

on whether he thinks the price tag does affect him at all...
Well, knowing Nico and after speaking to him, I don't think it's something that worries him too much. It's about him hitting his best every single week. I think this is where he believes he can do better and we have to try to help him.

on whether it was encouraging to see Nico scoring with his right foot...
It's nothing to do with me, that! That was his action and he scored a magnificent goal.

on if the next step in his development is to become less predictable...
Yes. He's been doing that recently a little bit more, going on the outside. It's something that he can do. It's just about that one, he attracts people as well and frees someone else with the last pass or the last delivery, which foot he needs to use to attack the defenders as well sometimes to make things easier for him. His starting position, sometimes, is not right. But he's trying really hard and he's a player that loves to play the game and we need to give him more help to try to be more successful.

on Folarin Balogun and if there's any news on a new contract...
He's a player that I really like. Obviously I've got this situation and I believe it's later than what I would like because I wasn't here when everything started to develop but yes, he's a player that I would like to give chances to. That's why he was in the squad today and I showed him that yes, we count on him and we believe in him and if he wants, he's going to have a future in the club.

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