Press conference

Arteta on the win, Smith Rowe, Lacazette and more

Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta was a happy man after we beat Aston Villa 3-1 on Friday night.

Afterwards he faced the media and discussed the performance, Alex Lacazette, Emile Smith Rowe and more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on if the first 45 minutes are a blueprint of how he wants his team to play… 
Yes, very close to it. What I liked the most was the way the team reacted from Monday evening - how we finished the game and how they were in the dressing room, accepting that it wasn’t good enough, that we played to a really good level in some parts but at a level that was not acceptable in others. We are the youngest team in the league, but that’s not an excuse. We cannot change the age. We cannot find excuses - we have to find out why those things happen in the game, find the right solutions and then put them right and believe that they can play at that level, because they can.

on his view of our penalty…
VAR didn’t give us anything against Palace. I think it’s a penalty. The timing: you can discuss whether or not the time was right. But if you ask me to have a judgment on the action, for me, it’s a penalty.

on being back in the top half of the table…
Yes, it is nice. We had a tough start and we’ve been more consistent with results. With performances, there are things that we must do better. But today I’m very satisfied with the performance and the result.

on Lacazette’s performance…
I think the [man of the match] could have been anybody. I think individually, they were all terrific. If you ask me about Thomas, about Sambi, about Nuno as well, the two central defenders, anybody. I think the way they played was at a high, high level. Emile was terrific. He’s scoring goals, which we’re demanding him to do, because he’s capable of doing it. I think it’s more about the team today.

on Smith Rowe starting to add end product…
That should be a habit and he should demand that in his game, because he’s capable of doing it. I’m pleased he’s developing that. He still needs to develop more in other areas. The other night he wasn’t 100 per cent fit but he made a step forward and wanted to play with a difficult injury that he had. He wasn’t complaining, he was just looking forward. He’s changed the way he’s living a little bit as well, and some habits that he had. He’s been superb.

on if tonight is an indicator of why bids were never going to be accepted for Smith Rowe…
It’s a perfect example of why we want to keep him, why we are giving him the opportunity to do what he can do for our club and that we are happy with him.

on Aubameyang and Lacazette limping off…
Laca was fatigue. He hasn’t played that many minutes. He worked so hard and at some stage he just said ‘I’ve had enough’ and he was cramping.

on whether the fans helped the performance tonight…
Absolutely, I think the chemistry is there. I think the connection is getting stronger and stronger, and I think they are [all] enjoying what they have to do. They are a part of our team, a big part of our team. When there are moments where our stadium lifts, our level lifts. Our energy lifts, our belief, our confidence. I think they were terrific again tonight.
on why today we were able to keep up the level of performance throughout the match today…
Because we analysed it, because we discussed it, because we found the right reasons why it's happening. We don’t think it’s a coincidence or we just want to rely on some immaturity - it’s not good enough. Whatever we have to do, we have to do it now. Football is now, not in 6 months, not in three years - and we cannot waste opportunity because we can do it. 
on Auba and whether he had an injury at full time...
No, no he was just cramping.
on whether Mikel has found his perfect formation with a 4-4-2 tonight...
We were trying a formation against what we thought they were going to do - what we believed could work. Then it’s down to the players to execute it, and they did really well. 
on limiting Villa to no shots in the first half and how pleased he must be by the performance…
It is really pleasing because that meant we were able to control the game the way we wanted, and take it where we wanted. But they are a top side. I was really impressed when I was analysing them again - they are a really difficult side to play against.
on how Emile Smith Rowe has had to adapt…
Well when you want to take the game to the next level, when you become a really important player in such a big club, that should be the only priority, and every detail is important and relevant. You have to make them aware of that - you cannot give percentages away that can make big differences. He’s changed that, and credit to him and the staff here that are monitoring and trying to build that education with him, and it will get only better.
on Partey’s goal...
Yes because he’s be chasing it for a long time, and he could have scored another two to be fair. I’m very happy for him, I think he enjoyed that moment in front of our supporters and I’m happy for him.
on Tierney’s injury and how long he’ll be out…
We don’t know how long he’s going to be out, he could not carrying on the other day and he wasn’t available to play.

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