With the new Premier League season kicking off on Saturday afternoon, Mikel Arteta held his pre-match press conference the day before he game at London Colney to provide a number of updates surrounding his squad.
The boss discussed injuries, transfers and selection ahead of the visit of Nottingham Forest to north London, and he revealed his excitement about the start of a new campaign.
Here is everything he had to say:
on how excited he is to start the new season:
I’m super excited, I think it’s a new challenge and a new opportunity. We’re very fresh to start again and we’re excited to play our first game at home as it’s been a while.
on if the expectations have changed at the club after last season:
Probably yes but the reality is that in football, you have to be at your best on the day. It’s only about today and tomorrow and playing the way we want to play and increase the probability of winning the game but we have to earn the right to do that.
on David Raya:
I have no news on any incomings.
on wanting the highest possible competition for places in every area of the pitch:
That’s what we’ve been trying to do, increase the depth of the squad and the quality as well, and the ability to be more flexible and have more quality and more interaction with players that can make us better. That’s the whole point.
on the challenge of keeping all his players happy:
I think you have to treat everybody the same, and that’s important. You have to make them important and in order to do that, they have to play football matches. Football is a collective sport and only 11 players play, and then there are another 11 players most of the time that are not happy with the situation. It’s how we deal with that, and how they accept their role because it’s going to change.
Every three days we’ll have a game and that’s going to change, and it’ll tell you a lot about the human being and the professional - when you are playing and when you are not, what is your actual contribution to the team? Whether it is not to play at all, or play when is needed to help the team win games. Then we want players that have that feeling that they are happy when the team wins, because it is a team sport and that’s where we have to be.
on whether he’ll bring in any more players before the end of the window:
At the moment we are not planning to do anything, but the window is very unpredictable and things can happen that probably we don’t wish for, so at the moment we are happy with what we’ve got.
on our current injuries:
I think everybody is going to be available, I think Mo is still out and we have Gabriel Jesus who still has an injury, but the rest should be fine.
on when Jesus could be back:
It’s a bit early still, it’s been less than two weeks since his operation. He’s been doing really well to be fair, and next week hopefully he can start doing some activity but it’s something where we’re going to be cautious and make sure that he comes back in the right way.
on starting with a home game:
We love playing at the Emirates and we love playing in front of our people. We have created an incredible atmosphere and the boys and everybody is ready to be there tomorrow at kick-off and put in a performance that they deserve.
on how tough of a game he’s expecting against Forest:
They did it [beat us last season] in a really clever way and they deserved on the day to get the points. Tomorrow we’re going to have to play better to deserve more. Steve’s teams are always extremely well organised and what they’ve done last season, especially the way they’ve started and how they’ve adapted to the league and their qualities, is remarkable, so I think they’ve done well.
on whether we have the confidence to mount another title challenge:
If we are starting on the first fixture thinking about the championship we are burning our energy! We have to focus on doing what we have to do to earn the right to win matches and that’s it, and go game by game.
on what he takes into consideration when selecting a striker:
A lot - first of all how they train, I think the state that they are in and the feeling that I have with them. How they react to certain decisions as well I think is really important, and then building relationships regarding the opponents’ qualities and the set-up, that can power our qualities to help us win the game.
on the energy levels at London Colney after winning the Community Shield:
Winning is the first energy booster that exists. It was great, everybody was so happy. It raised the confidence and showed everybody what we can do. But there is still an understanding that we must do better and we can still play much, much better. The Forest game is going to be a completely different story and a different context and we’re going to have to be ready for it.
on his take on the new rules on stoppage time:
I understand that we needed to tweak certain rules, and what the referees and the Association have done to try to improve the quality of the game that we see is a really positive thing. I think there are things we have to get used to, work on them and adapt.
on the importance of having the Invincibles team around the current squad:
With the incredible history that we have and that group of players have and the experiences they have together. Putting them at the service of the club and those players and staff to help us become better, I think is something that we must do. We are trying to bring that back in the best possible way and we’ve made some important steps.
on what this current Arsenal side can learn from the Invincibles:
I think when it comes to the Invincibles they will be the only ones. The way they did it, it was in their own way. We have to write our own history which will be very different but hopefully very beautiful as well.
on whether there’s pressure going into this season to repeat the success of last campaign:
I think it’s excitement. This is where we want to be. We are building a team that has the belief and the quality to be fighting for those places. The competition this year is going to be even harder than last year. You see a lot of teams with the movements they’ve made and you have to expect something different of them. So we’re going to have to be much better this year than last year, and this is what we’re preparing to do.
on the benefit of sorting our transfers early:
I don’t know, we’ve done it and we have the intention to do it - sometimes it’s possible, sometimes it’s not. We try our best and just have to focus on what we can do, the reason why we did it and try to maximise the resources that we can.
on if it helps having new signings playing for us during pre-season:
It definitely helps, especially the player and the environment and getting settled with different coaches is important. I think for the media and the commercial side of the club too, especially when you are going on tour to be certain that you have these players for the season so I think it’s something very positive for us.
on trying to get more out of certain players:
Yeah, because they deserve opportunities. We have to play them in the right positions and they have to be next to the right players as well so we can make fair judgements on those performances, and we’re going to try to do that much more this season.
on players being able to fit into different positions:
Having that ability is something that as a coach you really want. You saw that in the game [against Manchester City] and the moment we changed the game with the formation, we’ve put some quality players on the pitch with a different freshness and a lot of creativity and all the things started to happen in the game, Leo scored the goal, Fabio scored the winner and those finishers are going to be really really important.
on transfer interest in Folarin Balogun:
I cannot talk about internal things, sorry.
on day-to-day training with players potentially leaving:
They are our players and we have to look after them in the best possible way, and that they are treated in the best possible way. It’s true that in certain exercises you have too many players but you have to adapt. It always happens in this window and it’s part of the plan to be flexible and understanding of the situation.
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