Premier League football returns to Emirates Stadium on Saturday, when Fulham visit in the tea-time kick-off.
Mikel Arteta hosted his pre-match press conference at London Colney ahead of the game - with themes including the transfer window, the challenge this weekend’s opponents will pose and the impact of the Europa League on the team.
Here’s everything the boss said during the briefing:
on team news and injury updates:
Everybody has trained this week and everybody is fine, so hopefully we’ll have a full team to select from, apart from Reiss [Nelson] who has been injured for a few weeks now.
on what satisfied him the most from the Bournemouth game:
The way we played, the way we performed and obviously picking up the points, and continuing our good run.
on the key differences between our start from last season to now:
The players that we have available now, and the players that we had available at that time. We are in a different moment, a year has gone by. The same players that were playing a year ago, I can show some examples - especially with our development players - and where they are today is a completely different scenario. We’ve got good momentum, good energy around the place, and good confidence, so let’s keep going.
on what to expect from Fulham:
A really tough match. They’ve been on an incredible run - last year in the Championship they did extremely well, and they haven’t lost a game yet in the Premier League and they’ve played against three very difficult opponents, so credit to them. I think it will be a difficult game.
on Aleksandar Mitrovic’s threat:
As you could see last season when he scored 43 goals in the league, and he’s already scored three goals this season, so in terms of the efficiency that he has in these areas, he’s one of the main threats of Fulham.
on Nicolas Pepe’s departure:
It’s been three years since he joined the club and he’s had some very good moments and some where he hasn’t contributed that much to the team in terms of minutes, and we have decided that for every party it was the best decision to allow him to go. He needs minutes and needs to play football, and was really adamant to do that, and we decided it was the best thing for everybody.
on the mood in the camp:
The mood is really good, and the energy is really good. The boys have trained exceptionally well this week again, and we just have to put in another good performance and earn the right to win.
on our Europa League ambitions:
We have to go for every competition that we are present in, and try to win it. We’ll go step by step and see what the draw brings and start to prepare for the competition in the best possible way.
on Financial Fair Play:
We are compliant and we have heard nothing [from Uefa] so I don’t know where that has come from. I think the club has been very disciplined all the time and has a very clear vision on how we want to do things, the limitations we have and how we have to deal with things so in that sense nothing changes [in terms of transfers in this window].
on his upcoming 100th Premier League match as a manager:
I just found out - time flies! It is such a privilege to be in this football club and reach that number, and hopefully we can extend that for a long period and bring joy and a lot of wins.
on Hector Bellerin:
There are still a few players that we are having discussions with about their futures, and we’ll try to find the best solutions for all parties.
on what he’s learnt in those 100 league games:
How difficult and how beautiful life is when you win or lose! Especially that. And then looking back, analysing the journey and how many things that have happened, the way that every decision counts. Consistency is so important and just stick to what you believe in because in the end things will happen.
on whether he ever doubted the project:
We are human beings, we doubt. Especially when you lose football matches. With the environment turns around and you don’t find a real way to win matches, even though you deserve to, you have to find other ways to adapt. Sometimes you have to do that, but at the end you have to feel what you do because it’s the best way to transmit it, especially to your players and then to your supporters and everyone around the club, and that’s what we have tried to do at all times.
on being equipped to play twice a week:
It’s a completely unprecedented season, not only because we are going to be playing a lot of weeks with two or three games, but especially because we have the World Cup coming up. We don’t know how that’s going to affect us, so we have to look at the overall picture. The preparation and the organisation is being done in regards to that.
on Gabriel Jesus’s form and Aubameyang’s reported move to Chelsea:
With Gabby obviously we are exceptionally happy with the way he’s settled, with the way he’s performing and what he has brought to the club in general as well. In relation to Auba, it’s his future, and we wish him the best whatever he decides.
on whether he will have a coffee with him:
I normally don’t do that with players.
on whether Pepe’s transfer fee weighed him down:
I don’t know. I think Nico tried to deal with that the best possible way. Obviously he’s not responsible for the price that a club pays for him. He tried everything, his attitude and the way he is is just phenomenal. You just have to meet the person and you will love him for the way he is. In terms of the decision we have to make on the pitch and what we have to select, we have made other decisions and obviously that has had an impact in terms of the chances he’s had to show his quality.
on whether it’s the end of his Arsenal career:
He needed minutes, he’s been craving for minutes, He talked to me a lot about it, I could not guarantee it right now, what he was looking for. And at some stage if you extend that period for too long, frustration comes in and the level of performance won’t be what we want so we decided it was the best thing to do.
on if it will be a failure should Arsenal not qualify for next season’s Champions League given the players the club has brought in:
I think it’s a question for all the Premier League teams who are buying six, seven or eight players in their starting XI. You ask that question ‘what is failure?’. We have to perform week in, week out. We have started well and we have to focus on the next match.
on if the club have learnt lessons on recruitment in light of Pepe’s transfer and subsequent loan:
I don’t know. The club, and whoever decides to bring in players, wherever I’ve been involved in the past, has always been with the best intentions, because we’ve believed and they’ve believed at the time it was the best player to get in the market and have an impact for the club. Sometimes it’s not that easy and you see that everywhere - that you get a top, top player [at a different club] and suddenly it doesn’t work. This industry is very complicated. We try to minimise the risks as much as possible - but at the end of the day, they are not machines, they are human beings and they need all the factors to go right to fulfil their potential.
on if he’s looked at the Europa League pots and the opponents he’d like:
Inevitably you do it - you look at the travelling, the weeks that those games are going to be played in and what would be better or worse. We have nothing to do with that. It’s pure luck and let’s see what it brings today.
on whether Pepe will be replaced in the squad with a new signing:
If we can implement the plan that we have, we will try to do that. In the plan, that [Pepe’s loan move] was something that could happen - now it’s a reality and we’ve been preparing the last two months in order to achieve what we want. Whether that’s possible or not, we will see.
on if he’d be happy with his squad should Pepe not be replaced:
We’ve done it in different ways. At the start of the window, we signed players before getting other players out. Now we’ve done something different. We’ve let a player go and will maybe be able to recruit somebody. But it’s not a guarantee because the player is still not here. What I guarantee is the day that window closes, for me this is the best team in the world and I will try to get the best out of them.
on the transfer market and if the final week of the window is crazy:
You look at the players that are coming, the amount of money spent, the level that the squads already have and what they are adding, it’s something I haven’t experienced in this league. You saw yesterday a few of the transfers that happened and what is still going to happen in the last week or so, I think is going to be really powerful.
on the Premier League approaching a record spend for the window - and if it’s tougher to get anyone in:
Yeah but there are records as well in terms of performances the league has produced [are some of] the highest ever. You see the total points that you need to achieve certain things… it’s never happened before in this league. Those are the standards. The standards have raised so much for every single team in this league and you can already see surprising results and performances in the first few games.
on Arsenal’s schedule moving to Thursdays and Sundays with the Europa League - and if the squad can handle that:
That’s what we hope. Obviously there are a few things that we cannot control - injuries and suspensions as we’ve had in the past. But we have to maintain the level of performance we are at right now and the demand will be to do it every three days, which is what you are hoping for when you are at this club.
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