Press conference

Every word from Mikel Arteta's post-Luton presser

Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta was a happy man as he entered his post-match press conference following the 2-0 win against Luton Town that took us back to the top of the Premier League.

He was asked about the performance of his additions to the team, Bukayo Saka's fitness and the title race as it stands tonight.

Here is everything he had to say:

on the performances of Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson:
I look at my players in my squad in a different way – it’s a joy to have them fit. If we want to utilise the squad and maximise what they have, they have to play. I think it was the right moment to do that and they responded really well. I’m so happy with that because I think we’ve won again, especially with a few players with good confidence, physically with the rhythm right now and they’re going to be really important for us.

on rhythm and making five changes:
For sure [I wanted to give them the rhythm], when they have the moment, they have to take it and they certainly did today. They gave me a reason every day, regardless of the result because it’s not the right decision and it’s not down to the result. If we would have lost the game, it would have been down to making the changes. It’s not as simple as that; at the end you have to do what is right and what they deserve, and I was full of confidence that they would respond. Winning or not winning is another story in football.

on whether he knows when Manchester City and Liverpool will be playing:
I knew that Manchester City is playing now! I know that they [Liverpool] are playing tomorrow against Sheffield United at home – I’ll be watching it because I love to watch top teams play and this is what I do.

on whether the feeling of being top of the table is important:
For sure, that means that we are there, that we are really close, that we are showing a lot of consistency and quality to be able to be fighting in the positions that we are in right now. And now that’s it – sleep, eat, prepare well and now it’s Brighton.

on whether this squad is stronger than last season going into the run-in:
It’s certainly different to what we had last season, and the big injuries that we had in the key moments of the season. Touch wood that we can maintain them, and they can be there, but as well that we use them and they have the right mental and physical frame that they have to perform and have an impact in the team.

on Martin Odegaard’s quality and leadership:
He’s a really important player – we needed that balance and as well the chemistry that certain players have because it’s how they train as well, and how we build those connections and relationships, and Martin is there to connect everything well in how we play.

on how much Odegaard drives the culture and standards in the team:
He made huge steps, his presence, the way he’s behaving himself in front of the group and the standard that he sets is outstanding. He’s got a lot of players as well to support him and the rest to follow with him.

on whether tonight’s game will improve Smith Rowe’s confidence:
I think a lot. I love him as a player. It’s a joy to watch him, how he moves, how he changes direction, how physical he was today as well without the ball. He won a lot of duels and he was thinking with that killer instinct to play forward and to make things happen and when Emile is in that moment it’s very difficult to stop him. Today he helped us a lot to win the game.

on Kai Havertz’s receiving his ninth booking:
Yeah, we have to be careful. Hopefully he doesn’t get booked anymore because with the 10th we know what happens.

on whether he’s surprised that he’s got nine bookings:
I am surprised! That’s a different player. I don’t know, I will have to go back and look at those cards, but it’s something to improve. We don’t want our players to have that many and I think we are the best in the league on that. Something to improve.

on whether he’s happy with Takehiro Tomiyasu:
Is Tomiyasu happy? Then I’m happy. I’m really happy. I really like him, he fully deserves that. I think he’s growing with the team and we need the consistency from him when he’s fit and available because today when he came on he was really good and he gave us a lot.

on Bukayo Saka’s fitness:
He was close [to being involved], but he felt something similar again to City and it was a very short turnaround. Hopefully he will be able to train tomorrow and will be available for the weekend.

on whether he feels different this time to last season’s title race:
I can’t really remember how I was feeling last year! I was very excited, we kept growing, we tried our best and in the end we didn’t do enough to win it. Sometimes you just have to recognise the consistency and quality of other teams like we did and try again and go again, and here we are.

See Full List

Fixtures & Results

Friendly Match
Ticket Info