Press conference

Arteta on the win, the window, Pepe and more

Mikel Arteta's celebrations at the end of our hard-fought victory against Sheffield United said it all.

Our manager was delighted to claim the win which propelled us up to fourth place and was asked about a wide range of subjects in his post-match press conference.
 
Read on for a full transcript:
 
on the performance…
What I liked today was that we adapted to a very different scenario that we face din the last two games against Liverpool, it was a completely different game. I am happy with the way that we played the game that we had to play. We had the right patience, we created the right moments in the game when a lot of space started to open up in the second half, we scored two great goals and when that happens we need to improve to score the third one and then the game is gone. In the Premier League, the first time they got near our box, they scored a goal and then you have to hang in there and I don’t want to suffer as much because I lost my voice!
 
on the 19 passes in the lead-up to the second goal…
Yes, it was really good. I think the team is evolving in the right way, in possession in certain areas again to attack this low block, this 5-3-2, the way Chris [Wilder] has them organised, how resilient they are, how clever they are in the way they manage and conduct you into certain areas to trap you there, is really tricky. But the moment we increased our ball speed and started to read certain situations better, we attacked more efficiently with more purpose, and that is how we scored the goals.
 
on looking forward to seeing Saka with England…
Yes, I want to see it on TV, relaxed and nothing to do with me! I will be cheering for the boys, him and Ainsley as well. It has been really difficult week for Bukayo I believe, playing twice at Anfield, as well all the attention he got from the media after his call-up, you have to show a lot of temperament and manage your emotion and I think he did that really well with a lot of maturity.
 
on how confident he feels about signings…
Well I am confident we know exactly what we want to do, we are all trying our best to finalise the deals that we want, whether that is sending someone on loan or bringing someone in. We have a complete connection and cohesion between Edu and myself, the board and the ownership, so let’s see what happens in the next 36 hours.
 
on whether Guendouzi, Kolasinac and Torreira will leave…
I cannot comment unfortunately right now, there are things going on behind the scenes but at the moment there is nothing different.
 
on Nicolas Pepe’s performance…
I am really happy, first of all for him and also for the contribution he made to the team. When this type of player is not playing, obviously they are not happy but I demanded them on matchday to be completely focused and determined to make the impact when they have the chance to play, and that is exactly what he has done. I think it is another step forward for him, he is capable of doing that but he needs to do it with consistency. This is the demand we are going to put on him but I am delighted that he has done it and he helped the team a lot today to get the points.
 
On whether he has the squad to get a top-four finish…
Well there’s a lot of things that you are saying that have to happen over 10 months, but that is the challenge we have. Every week they get a lot of feedback, we try to coach them the right way, we try to give them the right environment to grow and feel comfortable at our club but after there are moments, they are moments personally, there are moments of confidence, there are moments where you play more or less and you have to sustain that throughout a season with 24 or 26 players and that is the challenge that we have ahead of us, whether we can do it or not.
 
on whether he expects to sign at least one player…
I don’t know. What I can guarantee is that we are doing our maximum for that to happen, whether we are going to achieve it or not, I don’t know.
 
on bringing in new midfield options...
I cannot discuss the players that we want but we recognise certain positions that we believe we are short in. First of all in numbers and then adding different qualities to complement each other and this is what we are trying to do.

on Gabriel....
I am very impressed because I've always said that in this league, in this country, one of the most difficult positions to play is as a centre-back because you get challenged and exposed many times and tested many many times. I saw from the first day, he has a lot of personality, he has big courage to play and he's not impressed by anything. He's very secure, very stable mentally as well throughout the game and I think he has the physical and technical attributes to adapt really well to the league. That's why we signed him, but credit to him because to do it in this short space of time, I think that's a big thing.

on if Arsenal have 'found their man' in Gabriel...
I think for him to be stable, for him to perform, he needs the right structure around him and the right organisation. I think we are getting much better at that. I am seeing a lot defenders involved saying it's something we had to improve. Yes, it's made us a more solid team. As you can see he doesn't get exposed in many open spaces. This is more about the function and the structure of the team and that's going to help them. The better our process is with the ball, the better we progress into the final third, [the better] we're going to help our strikers so the defence is the same.

on if he has a message for the Arsenal fans...
I think that I always try to be really honest and clear. Believe me that the ownership, the board, myself, are doing everything we can to maximise the resources we have to improve the team and to sustain and keep the players that are in this club to make this club successful. I have 100% backing from them. It's not just words, it's reality. Whoever knows me, if it wasn't like that I wouldn't say it but I say it because I feel it and it's true.

on financial restrictions...
Whatever we can do, whether it's ourselves or the owner, they are willing to do it to support us, to back us, because I feel that they believe in what we are trying to do.

on the quality of the current players...
I am really happy with the players that I have. My job is to improve them, this is the job, and to focus on the players that I have and the staff that I have here. To make this place better, you know? Whatever we can add, we can improve of course, we will try to do it but we have to be realistic as well about how much we do in a certain period of time. Honestly, my energy is in the people that work alongside us, we are all willing to help. They are all really supportive of me and I can only thank them. It's a give and take between us. Whoever jumps on the boat will be welcome because we will believe that he is adding something here, whether it's a player or a staff member or whoever. I can say that I think now that we all share the same ambitions first and we have a very clear direction and purpose to drive the goals that we want to achieve right now.
 
on fatigue from this week...
I need a break, I'm telling you!

on what it says about our mental strength to get the job done...
In going twice to Anfield... Going once emotionally drains you. You know what you're going to face, you know you're not going to have any time. You know how good they are, how organised they are, how resilient they are, so you have to demand 100 per cent of yourselves. To go two times in four days - and they want to win, it's not like they want to throw the Carabao Cup - when you see the commitment and the reaction in the dressing room after we lost the league game, I knew this group was on the right path. I saw that they were upset, that they could have done a little bit more, they wanted to a be a little bit more in the game until the end. We had the chances but we just didn't have one or two decisions in our way. They were upset and this is another step forward. Today, we had to play the game that Sheffield United allows you to play and you have to find the moments to do that. It was a completely different game to Anfield and that adaptability is very necessary because in the Premier League you have many different styles and types of games. This is the step that we have to take as a team as well.

on Hector Bellerin...
There's no secrets, he's demanding all the time to do more individual work, to improve in the final third. He's doing a lot of reviews, a lot of individual defensive work as well in things that he has to improve. When you do that, you get rewarded. Maybe it's not going to happen in the first week or the first month but over time, he'll improve. He had a difficult period because he was doubting himself in his head with the amount of time that he's been here, a lot of things have been happening in the background. I trust him, I know him really well and I know how much he can still improve. He's showing every day that he's willing to do it. I'm pleased because I really like him.

on how much of a boost it is that Hector's stayed...
Yes [I feared he may leave] because I understand that after such a long time at the club, and a lot of things that happened in that trajectory of his development, that he doubted whether he was still OK to continue here, what ambitions he had here, how he can evolve here. But what I liked is that he came to me and said, 'I can see what we are trying to do here and I'm convinced it's the right place for me'. Then when you close that window, you can open the next one. He was a completely different player that I could see in training with his energy level as well, and his willingness to work a little bit more all of the time. We need to keep him fit as well, that's one of the issues he's had in the last few years because he's been really unlucky with injuries. You want to have that consistency and at this level of performance, you have to be fit. There's no other way.

on whether he felt he needed to convince Hector to stay...
I think I have to tell him, first of all that I was very honest with what I said about him. And then I let him think. I wanted him to talk to his family, his people, and he came straight back to me to tell me that he was 100 per cent committed and happy to be here. This is the kind of player we need here. There is no 50:50 or 80:20, we want to do what we want to do and that requires 100 per cent commitment.

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