Press conference

Every word from Mikel Arteta's pre-Wolves presser

Ahead of our final Premier League game before the World Cup break, Mikel Arteta held his pre-match press conference before our fixture with Wolves.

The boss was asked about a number of topics from the gathered press, including World Cup call-ups, his thoughts on this first section of the season and the game tomorrow as well as the incoming Julen Lopetegui.

Here is everything he had to say:

on Ben White’s call-up:

I think he was really happy. I think the staff and players were so happy for him, he fully deserves it and you could see that it was a big moment for him.

on how proud he is to have played a part in Ben’s call-up:

All of the credit is down to what he’s done. You look at his career and how far he’s come in a short very period of time, it says everything about the person, the player, his ambition and especially the consistency that he’s achieved over the last few years.

on if Ben has thanked him for moving him to right-back:

No! We have discussed that every player needs some time to understand the reasons why, and I think he’s really enjoying it. It brings him other opportunities and being a versatile player is something that’s rare in this world and I think he’s got the capacity to do that.

on the players who didn’t receive call-ups:

I think the boys have been really good with each other. We knew how much it meant to big Gabi to be selected and be part of the national team, but unfortunately, they didn’t have the space this time. The good news is that he’s really young, he will have other opportunities and you have to respect those decisions and carry on your career.

on the significance of being top at Christmas:

It would be great, but our focus is to play better every single day and to try to play better tomorrow than we did against Chelsea. If we do that, our chances to win the game will increase and that’s where our focus is.

on saying our squad is short:

I said that from day one after the transfer window that obviously the demands of the competitions we have to be involved In are huge. Some of the players have experience, others not the biggest, but we have competed in a really impressive way with the numbers that we have. Of course, if we can improve the team, we are always looking to do that as a club.

on if he expects to be busy in January:

I don’t know, this is so unpredictable this window, especially with the World Cup in the middle. We will have a look, we will try to get the squad stronger and be active, because we don’t know what is going to happen in that World Cup. Touch wood, everybody will be OK.

on which team will win the World Cup:

One of my players, I hope!

on if we have any new injuries:

No.

on if players have expressed concerns about getting injured ahead of the World Cup:

We’ve discussed that topic before and I always said to them, if you are thinking about an injury, it is probably going to happen. I don’t know if it’s going to happen today, the next day, or the first day of your preparations for the World Cup, so get it out of your minds. You are professional athletes, and this risk is always there for you. Do your job and commit yourself to everything that you do in every action, and the risk will be less.

on what type of game to expect tomorrow with it being Steve Davis’ last:

It’s special. Obviously, they are in a moment as well with very special circumstances. I think Steve has done a really good job looking at the games they have played. We were watching the midweek game they played and the game before that they lost not really meriting to lose the game. We know, Saturday night at the stadium will be busy and it will be a tough game.

on if we have overachieved in this first section of the season:

What we tried to achieve is to play better every single day and I think we are making some strides towards that. I think the consistency level that we’ve shown is much better. Whether we can sustain that level or not is dictated game by game.

on if the title race is a two-horse race:

I’m not here to give opinions on that. What I want to do is finish as high as possible and play as well as possible 

on it being strange with World Cup starting the following week:

This week there is a lot of talk, a lot of rumours, a lot of news but our focus has been on the game. We know after that what is coming for some players - something extraordinary and special, and for others the opportunity to reset and prepare.

on White’s and Ramsdale's price tags:

We picked the players that we believed that they had the qualities and the personality to be helpful and successful at our club. Obviously if they are valuable to the national team, and in this case England, then much better.

on his favourite World Cup memory:

When Spain won it! 100 per cent. One of my biggest mates Pepe Reina was on that stage making the speech and making everyone proud and happy.

on who he wants to win the World Cup:

I don’t know let’s see. I think everything is going to happen naturally and whoever is there we will be with them.

on the comments made by Brazilian journalist Neto on Gabriel Martinelli:

I’m not here to comment on others.

on if his son enjoyed being in the away end at Stamford Bridge and knows the chants:

He is learning too much and too fast!

on what chant in particular his son liked?

He had a really good time and I’m glad he enjoyed it.

on if his son will be there for Wolves:

I don’t know

on which areas he thinks the squad is short:

This is a comment that I made on the first day after the transfer window, it doesn’t mean we’re not good enough. It is short and we have used players like for example Marquinhos, we had other plans and he’s been an important player, a player that has the capacity. It’s true we had injuries as well Mo has been out for three months, Thomas has been out for a period, we had Alex out for a long period as well, so we have adapted to that. We are willing to do that but the demands are going to be really big for everybody, and we’ve got to be ready for that.

on whether he would prefer a smaller or bigger squad:

I want to have the best possible squad in the world.
 
on it being interesting to see Julen Lopetegui in the Premier League:

Yes very much. He’s a great coach, his career talks for itself, what he did at Sevilla, what he did in Portugal, what he did for the national team. He’s a really good coach, [he’s from] not far from where I live, so I know him really, really well and hopefully after tomorrow he can have a very successful period here.
 
on how much Bukayo has changed since Euro 2020:

I don’t know, obviously experiences make you tougher and make you better if they don’t get you down too much. He reacted in a great way and the support he got from world football was incredible for him. I think that has helped him to develop into an even better player.
 
on whether it’s strengthened Bukayo’s bond with Mikel:

I think the club in general. First of all, Gareth and the coaching staff for the England team were incredibly supportive. That was very important because that was the first period after what happened. Then every stadium in this country, the way they treated him and showed appreciation for him was something really rare. He needed that support and now he has to use that to take his game to a different level.
 
on when we saw the best Arsenal so far this season:

I don’t know, we had periods and big games when we have performed really well, especially against the top opponents. I think what we did last weekend showed a lot of maturity and another side of the team, when we really need to show it, we did it. It’s a work in progress all the time and what you are able to do today maybe you are not able to do tomorrow, and you have to be on your toes to try to get the team always on the right energy level and potential level to deliver the quality needed to win. Again, our focus is on getting better every day.
 
on whether he has been surprised by the level considering the age of the team:

It’s not easy. At that age and what some of the boys have done at 20 and 23 years old is rare. I don’t know if I’ve seen that in this league. But credit to them, they have the courage and the personality and the maturity to take the moment the way they do, and obviously they have the quality and the talent to do it.
 
on what he expects in the second half of the season:

We will analyse the areas obviously that we need to improve, the areas that we are doing well, and just focus on the priorities and the things we have to work on. That ‘pre-season’ for us is going to have different faces. We have to maximise that period when we have internationals, when we don’t have them, when they are back, in what state they are, and address that, and be clever about making those decisions.
 
on how much he can plan for that:

We can guess! Very few times that gives you the right answer but we try to prepare obviously, the way we need to be communicating with our players will be very important, without being on top of them. But understanding how they are feeling, what they are doing, and try to support them, have another voice if they want anything and be there
 
on how important it is to be top at Christmas:

I don’t know, we are going to have to earn the right to do that tomorrow and that’s where we are.
 
on whether he is planning to go to Qatar:

I would like to but I don’t know if we are going to be able to experience that. But I would like to experience that, and watch a few games, watch our players live but I don’t know if we’re going to be able to.
 
on the morality of holding the World Cup in Qatar:

The way the decision-making is at the top, it’s extremely difficult for us to have an opinion that will change the course of that decision. Probably we have to change that pyramid which would take a lot of time and a big fight. 
 
on whether it’s a mistake to host it there:

I don’t know, it’s what it is. You have to understand everything before that decision is made and I don’t have all the information to answer that question.

Read our in-depth preview ahead of our game at Molineux, including team news, stats and retro action

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