Press conference

Every word from Arteta’s press conference

Mikel Arteta after the Chelsea match

Mikel Arteta was posed with a variety of questions in his press conference after our 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Emirates Stadium.

The manager discussed the performance, the latest on Kieran Tierney and Gabriel Martinelli, the absentees from Sunday’s squad and more - read on for a full transcript.

on if he saw an improvement in the performance…
I certainly saw a team that never gave up and kept trying in the second half. Their attitude was exceptional. It’s always tough to lose 2-0 at home against an opponent who were able to perform at the level that they did today, collectively and individually. It makes it really hard. But what was clear was that they never gave up. The crowd tried to push them and we tried to fight right until the end.

on how much of an affect COVID is having on preparing his squad…
It’s really challenging at the moment. We are missing nine players - and the majority of them are big senior players. It’s what we have. We put out there a team that will probably be unprecedented in the history of this football club. But credit to the boys, how they are trying, the passion they are trying to bring to the team. They are playing with a lot of courage in this situation, which is tough. They are trying their best - and at the moment it’s not enough to win football matches.

on Manchester City - and how he’ll prepare his young team…
Try to give them confidence and belief that football changes really quickly. The league and the table is not going to be decided in August. I don’t want to see anybody feeling sorry for themselves or for the squad or for the team, because that’s not going to help us. I want a team and individuals that want to fight and want to face the challenge that is ahead of us, because normally when you do that, at some stage you get rewards. That’s what I’m going to try to do with them.

on if it’s a worry that the team were jeered…
I saw a lot of excitement from them at the beginning. They really tried to push the team. When you’re 2-0 down at half-time, nobody is going to be happy. We’d be fooling ourselves [as] a club with this rich history, if anybody is going to be happy at half-time with that. I think in the second half, you saw a different reaction - every time the team was giving something, they were reacting positively towards them. The players were saying that they believed that they were really good with them. At the end they had to show that it’s frustrating. You don’t want things to be negative at the moment right now but [the circumstances we are facing right now] is really difficult. We need them more than ever, now.

on if Arsenal should have had a penalty when Saka went down in the first half…
Yes. Clear.

on Tierney and Martinelli…
They had to limp off. KT had an issue with his quad and Gabi was cramping. He and Bukayo haven’t played 90 minutes for a long time. We’re asking them to do that right now when they’re not fully prepared. They tried really hard, the boys.

on if his team should be judged given the ‘teething problems’ they’ve had at the start of the season…
We can’t control that. We’ll try to explain what we’re facing when we can, but the expectation is always for this club to win every single match. When that doesn’t happen, it’s normal that we’re going to get criticism and they’re going to try to look where they want. That’s it. Hopefully things will get better. When players get back, they will need some time because they have lost a lot of football. I think it will be completely different. Hopefully we will see a different squad, a different level in the way we can play - and different results. Then the story can change. The good thing in football is that the narrative [can] change really quickly.

on if Ben White has any chance of playing at Man City…
I don’t think so, no.

on how fit Aubameyang is - and if he can start next weekend…
I don’t know. Auba made a real effort to be able to be on the bench today. He only trained one day. He really struggled with illness - he was in bed for a long time but he wanted to be in the squad, he wanted to try to help the team and I thought he did help the team when he came on.

on if he was tempted to go with a back three against Chelsea…
I did think about all of the options that you can imagine - but we were hit with COVID and situations during the week as well. We have beaten those [top] teams playing with three at the back, and we beat Chelsea here in the league with four at the back. They were better than us today.

on if Arsenal are playing with one hand behind their back at the moment due to injuries and COVID…
We have nine players out of the squad at the moment. I don’t know if it’s a hand, but it’s a big part of the squad.

on if he’s hopeful that things will look different for him when he gets members of the squad back…
Yes, 100 per cent.

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