Press conference

Every word from Arteta's Brighton press conference

We finish 2022 with a trip to face Brighton & Hove Albion on New Year’s Eve - and Mikel Arteta was posed questions on a series of themes at his pre-match press conference.

Our manager discussed the influence of Pele, issued an update on our team news and outlined what he expects from Roberto De Zerbi’s side on Saturday evening.

The full transcript is available to read below.

on the influence Pele had on Arteta…
Everything I’ve seen of him was through videos and people who knew him personally. He was someone who changed the dimension of world football - he could do everything. He was probably the most complete player the game had ever seen. It’s a big loss. We’ve had two big losses with him and Maradona in the last years.

on if the Brazilian players in the squad have mentioned Pele’s legacy…
We talked about that the other day. Obviously they are very emotional because he’s one of the most popular figures in Brazil. It’s a big loss.

on team news ahead of Brighton…
Everything is good so far, apart from the players we already had out. Everybody has been training well.

on if Tomiyasu is any closer to returning…
Yeah - he’s getting closer and closer. He’s been training with us, so he’s available.

on what lessons he learned from the League Cup defeat against Brighton…
They are a really good team. They are playing at a really high level. They are a team that dominate almost every phase of play that is relevant to dominate a football match. They have a lot of confidence and play with their own personality. I know the coach really well - he’s someone I’ve followed for a period and he’s doing really well.

on how pleased he is to see Nketiah stepping up…
That’s what we need from the players - we had a big blow with Gabby. Not having him had a big impact in the team but we always said that Eddie had the qualities. He needed the opportunities to show that and he did it again on Boxing Day.

on how it feels to be top going into the new year…
Very good, but my feeling is about tomorrow, playing well and performing at the level that we’re going to need to win the game against a really good side. That’s the focus. We are really happy with where we are but as I’ve always said, there are a lot of things we can still do better and improve - and we have to show that in the coming games.

on how challenging he’s expecting the game to be…
It is always a really difficult and tricky game. They have a lot of individual quality, a lot of composure on the ball. They are a team that are really aggressive and they will ask some big questions. We’ll need to be at a really high level to win the game.

on De Zerbi’s impact at Brighton - and if Arteta has noticed changes since Potter left…
Yeah, every manager has his ideas and is different. You could see a lot of similarities with what he did at Sassuolo and at Shakhtar as well. [He has] his way of understanding the game and it’s always that type of game.

on how much closer Smith Rowe is to returning to the squad…
Very much. He’s made some big steps in the last week or so. He’s taken part in a few training sessions lately and he’s looking good. We’re looking forward to having him back soon.

on the front three all scoring on Boxing Day - and how much confidence that brings with Jesus out…
It’s just one game - we need to show the consistency and the capacity to do that every three days. We have another opportunity to do that against Brighton.

on Arsene Wenger after he attended the match on Boxing Day…
It was a great day, a really emotional day. It finally happened and it happened in a natural way. I think he got what he deserved, which was a big ovation from our crowd and a really good feeling of welcoming from everybody the moment he was around the stadium. I’m really pleased with that because he absolutely deserves it.

on if a transfer for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhailo Mudryk is likely to happen…
I cannot talk about players that are not ours.

on Saliba recovering well from giving away a penalty against West Ham - and how important it is to secure his future…
We have a few of those, where we are willing to extend the contract. William is one of them. In the months he’s been with us, he’s shown the quality and the personality he has to play at the level that we want. We are trying to do that because we know that he can be a really important part of our plans.

on if the contract talks are progressing well…
I hope so. That’s more for Edu and the board to discuss with him, but what I know is the player is really happy, the player wants to be here - and that’s the main thing.

on the supporters creating energy at home and what the good away form is down to when they are outnumbered…
[Our away supporters] are louder [than the opposition’s home fans]. We still have a huge support and a lot of people travelling with the team. [The supporters] have been extraordinary away from home. It’s a different atmosphere. We have played some big games already away from home this season, and tomorrow will be another one.

on if the players understand the mood of big games better this year…
Yeah, you can improve but every game is a challenge. Every context is different and tomorrow will be a very special day. It’s on New Year’s Eve - I’m sure the stadium will be pretty loud and I hope we are ready for that.

on what transferrable themes he sees when he studies other sports…
I love sport. I’m interested in meeting people and we are really lucky because we have the access to do that. We’ve managed to do that all the time, to exchange opinions, experiences and ideas with other coaches.

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