There was a packed press conference room at London Colney on Tuesday morning as Mikel Arteta faced the media ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League game against Sevilla.
The boss was asked about the return of European football, the latest team news, how he has reflected on our defeat at Newcastle and the VAR decisions within it, and more.
Here's everything he had to say on the following subjects:
on early team news:
Gabriel [Jesus] won’t be fit. With Martin, it’s still uncertain. The rest, no news so far.
on what he said after the game at Newcastle United:
It is my duty to stand in front of you, to stand in front of the cameras and give a very clear and honest assessment of what happens in the game. This is what I did, reflect very openly how I felt that the team played and how they game was conditioned by this result with the decisions that were made. It’s the duty, my duty is defending my players, supporting my players, supporting my club, defending my people in the best possible way and this is what I’m going to do time after time. I do it the way I feel with the evidence and being as clear as possible and I always do it. When we play brilliantly, to say that, when we have lost, to take my responsibility, the first one me to do it. It’s the way that I am and I have to defend my club.
on if he was angry about just that goal or other decisions as well:
Some things don’t happen overnight. When it was that clear and I had all the evidence for the words that I used in the media, it’s because I feel strongly about them. One thing is what I say externally, but internally to my players it’s about how can we play better, how can we be more dominant, how we can do the game the way we want to give no chance to the opponent. One thing is my duty towards you guys and then my duty as a coach to do what we have to do. This is exactly what I’ve done, nothing special, nothing different, and I would do it and the club would do it again and again until this is right. Until this is right, we have to be better on the pitch and win more football games. That’s it.
on why he thinks the goal should’ve been disallowed:
Now we talk about Sevilla and the beautiful game that we have to play tomorrow.
on the importance of winning against Sevilla to qualify for the knockout stages:
The moment you have a chance in football to put it to bed, do it. We have to do a lot of things right tomorrow to earn the right to win it and against a really good team with enormous experience in this competition, we have to prove it tomorrow in front of our people how excited we are to play that game and what it means for us.
on his statement that referee mistakes happen:
I stand for the same words that mistakes are part of football in any other way, and we are here to constructively improve the game in everything that we can, and this is what we have been doing. As a club, me the individual with my duty as a manager in the managers’ meeting, to give our opinion, our voices and to raise it in the most constructive ways together and [create] a better game, that’s all. That’s the only thing we are looking at collectively to achieve for everybody.
on how VAR impacts his behaviour on the sidelines:
There is the answer, your colleague has mentioned how emotional I was after the game, and how I acted on the touchline. I didn’t get a yellow, I didn’t get a warning from the referee, so I stayed focused on the game, trying to affect the game in the best possible way for my players, that’s it.
on Martin’s injury situation and the impact on being called up for Norway
Martin loves to play for his country and every time that he’s been called up and been fit, he’s been there. And he will be there if that’s the case.
on why he came on against West Ham but didn’t play on the weekend:
It’s no relation with what we had and what happened the day before the game against Newcastle; they are two different topics and things.
on using the weekend to galvanise the players against Sevilla:
Yes, especially the performance of the team, and watching back, the two games that we watched last year when we won 2-0 and the one that we lost 1-0, we were much better three days ago than we were a year ago, much better and we deserved more in that game, but that’s the beauty of this game. So we have to build a lot of things that we did right against Newcastle, improve certain things especially in the final third, to be more of a threat, but for the rest, the way the team played, the way we competed, it was extraordinary.
on the reaction to our club statement:
Again, we have a duty to express how we feel with all the evidence that we have and the history of what happened. I think we have to really stand for our people, our values and who we are. And when the club has done it, it’s done it in very specific moments with the right reasons, and it shows the unity and understanding that’s within the club, to position ourselves in a really clear and honest way. That’s our duty as a club.
on the impact of the club’s statement:
I think that the support that we have given to everybody, and I continue to do that, that's not going to change. I'm going to be there, if I have to talk to anybody, I will be in any meeting, trying to reinforce everything. We all want the same, but we have to understand that it has to be there, and if you guys and everybody in football wants us to be there, we have to give our opinion and we have to hear our opinion in an honest way and clear, don't talk about other things, be clear and honest, very respectful, but clear and honest and value what we have and make sure that we continue evolving the game the way we want, that's it.
on how to stop these errors happening:
Errors are part of an evolution. The trajectory is never going to be like this, there are always bumps along the road and maybe these things are very necessary to happen to improve the game in the right way, that's it. But we have to talk loudly, if we have a problem, let's talk about this, let's try to improve it in a very constructive way, that's it, that's what we are trying to do, nothing else.
on how we’ve played in Europe this season:
Obviously, we had two very good games, the one against Lens especially in the second half we struggled, in the first 20-25 minutes of the second half, but overall the way the team has not only performed, but I think the presence of the team, the maturity they have shown in big games like this has been really good, but it's about doing it consistently and tomorrow we're going to have to do a lot of those things very, very well.
on what he saw from Jorginho and his importance lately:
Well, hopefully the same that all the managers that have played him, he is an incredible player, he is a leader, he is a very intelligent player for us, and he has the quality to make the team better, that's it.
on evolving the game with refereeing decisions:
I think I have defended many, many situations and the last thing you have never heard from me in a press conference is an excuse to talk about that result, it is nothing to do about it. It's 'first of all, look inside our house at all the things we can do better' and then we can look externally, is there anything that can affect what we are actually doing, but first you have to look inside at yourself, and I am the first one to look in the mirror.
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