Press conference

Every word from Arteta's pre-Aston Villa presser

Ahead of our game against Aston Villa on Sunday, Mikel Arteta was in the press room at the Sobha Realty Training Centre to tackle questions about the game from the media.

He spoke about topics including team news, Villa's impressive campaign, his respect for Unai Emery and balancing the Champions League quarter-finals with our Premier League title tilt.

Here is everything he had to say:

on if Gabriel will be fit after missing part of training:
We’ve got one more day to prepare for the match and we'll see tomorrow if everybody is available.

on if there are any other injury hangovers post-Bayern:
We have some but hopefully with another day, we're going to be okay.

on what he is taking from the Bayern game:
Reflection done, Bayern gone. Now it’s Aston Villa - we’re only focusing on Aston Villa.

on if Bukayo Saka has calmed down after Tuesday night:
Yes he looked fine this morning. He's had 48 hours to think about it and it’s done.

on what’s impressed him most about Aston Villa:
What they’ve done since Unai came in. He's made a huge impact at the club in terms of performances and consistency, it’s unbelievable what they are doing. They’re still in European competition and they played last night so its really impressive with what they’ve done.

on whether there are any challenges to playing last out of the three title contenders:
We will know the results but we’ll still have our duty to win our game which is the only thing that we can control. That’s happened a few times already and it’s going to happen again in the next few weeks, so we’ll just focus on what we can do, what we can control and make sure that we perform like we have to do against a really good side to try to beat them.

on semi-automated offsides being introduced next season:
I think it was unanimous so that means it is going to be better, it's going to be faster and more efficient so hopefully it's going to work and be very positive for us.

on when Jurrien Timber might be fit again:
He’s still got a few steps to make. He needs to play a game, at least with the under-21s and he’s going to have an in-house game soon as well. He's done everything in training, now it’s getting that match fitness and having people around him to start competing in a full match which is different to training.

on what he’ll bring to the team when he’s back:
Hopefully a lot. Everything that we've seen training and in the time he was fit, I think he's going to have a big impact on the team.

on how pleased he is with our momentum:
It’s really good and we want to carry on going. It's the most beautiful part of the season coming up right now and a very busy schedule. We’re going to have a really tough [game] against a really good side, and are we going to have to be really good to beat them.

on the lead at the top of the table changing 18 times:
I didn't know that! Hopefully it stays as it is for the remaining six weeks. 18 is a beautiful number, I like eight a lot. It was my number so let's keep it at 18!

on how the players are dealing with the pressure:
I think it is just motivation. I think they’ve lived it already and they are super excited about what we are doing and the way the team is performing, winning matches and they want more. We know the task, the challenge ahead of us and how good we have to be to win it, but we're going to try.

on Villa having key players missing:
We always try to use things to our advantage. We don’t know what they are going to do and that’s nothing we can control. They still won last night and they are a really good side, so we know the danger and we know our strengths as well, and we’ll try to do what we have to do to win.

on the differences between VAR in the Champions League and Premier League:
It is different, the officials are different and you have to adapt. It is a competition that is played in a slightly different way and we're trying to adapt.

on what the players got from the Bayern result:
I think there’s a lot to take, especially how we emotionally managed the game by being very dominant and ahead, and within 15 minutes you are behind against a top side. You have to deal with that game emotionally which is really tough to do. I think the team did brilliantly to manage that situation. It’s half-time and there’s everything to play for in Munich.

on whether players have to learn that emotion on the field:
I think that's something that you have to work on daily, with a lot of aspects to when you are there, you already are living certain things in your system and as a team to be able to deal with them.

on Emery reaching 1,000 games as a manager in midweek:
It’s unbelievable and he's done it in so many different countries, in so many different contexts and has been incredibly successful. Obviously he’s from very close to my hometown and I have huge admiration for him and his respect. I wish him the best after Sunday, but what is doing is really impressive.

on how much the next two weeks will define our season:
Very, for sure, because we can be in all competitions, going into the semi-finals of the Champions League and be top of the Premier League, or not. Every game is going to define what our future looks like.

on if it’s possible to look at just one game at a time:
It is the only thing possible to look at one day and one game. It is the only thing that is possible because it's the only thing that maintains your focus and determines the tasks that you have to do on the day, which is the only thing that you can control.

on if he’s thought about being the first Arsenal manager in 20 years to win the Premier League:
I don’t think like this to be fair. I think about what we have to do next to beat the next opponent, to win and maintain the position that we’re in. There is still very far to go.

on how difficult it is to do that:
It’s the job that we live. The game finishes and 15 minutes later [after] we finished Luton, I was watching Brighton in my office in the stadium. It’s like this because you don’t have time, you have to prepare and you’re onto the next one.

on if our defence will win us the Champions League or the Premier League:
It’s a huge platform and gives you a real chance to win football matches, that’s for sure, and we’ve been consistent and seen the difference when you concede and when you don’t concede those goals the impact that it has. Let’s keep doing it.

on keeping players relaxed and positive:
They naturally have a lot of support from different areas and fields of expertise. We do it between all of us. There is an understanding of the mood of the team and the mood of individuals, trying to tweak that every single day to be in the right zone so when they have to perform we’ve given them the best chance to do that.

on if there are any special techniques for it:
I don’t know if they are special but there are techniques, there are ways to do it, ways that you believe can work and impact the team and this is what we have to try to do.

on the touchline ban he had at Villa Park:
It was an experience. I deserved it. I had to go upstairs because I got the yellow card and the rules say I have to miss a match. I did, I experienced it, I didn’t like it, so hopefully it doesn’t happen again.

on if it made him change his behaviour:
It’s possible that I think like this. Can I control it when I am there? That’s something else. So far it’s been better but in the season when you look at all the managers that have had bans, it’s not a coincidence that the majority of us at some stage of the season have been there.

on if it’s easier now on the touchline:
Maybe we are adjusting. The rule came up and it was a very aggressive rule. Every time we were talking we would get a yellow card. Now it’s a bit smoother and there is more understanding from both ways what we expect from each other.

on if he has improved controlling his emotions:
I think it has evolved, I don’t know if it’s for better or worse. It’s not me who has to judge that. At the end it’s how much I help the club, the team and individual players to try to perform in as many matches as we can. This is the final objective, always.

on Jesus and if he needs to manage minutes:
In elite sport to play without pain is very difficult, especially at the level that we play. If you ask any player, they will say that sometimes there is pain and they have to deal with that. That makes you as well, and Gabby has this toughness and character that he always wants to overcome. He has overcome some difficulties in terms of injuries and he is ready again.

on trying to transmit calm energy:
I don’t know if it’s consciously. You guys know me, it’s how I feel one way or the other and it’s very difficult to hide it. It’s how I feel, I want to give the players the best support and mindset and emotional state to enjoy these moments, go for it and have a real sense of belief and determination to earn what we have worked so hard for ten months to achieve.

on it being a tense time of the season:
That’s for sure and they are super focused and determined. When the team is doing very well, don’t touch it, let them do it. They have grown a lot as a group and let them be themselves.

on Kai Havertz and if he needed convincing to flourish as a number nine:
No. The first conversation with him, I told him what the idea was and how I could see him play and impact the team. He fully agreed with that, he’s very comfortable changing positions. He’s done it with us, with Chelsea in the past, with the national team and he has this capacity to adapt. If he’s feeling good, sometimes it’s about who is around him, and what we ask him to do more than the position.

on if he is more comfortable there:
I’m not sure. I think it depends on the game, it depends on the behaviours of the opponent and what his role is within the day, but I wouldn’t say he’s more comfortable as a nine. I think he’s tremendous as a nine but he did very similarly as an eight.

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