After having a few moments to compose himself after the craziness of our comeback win against Bournemouth, Mikel Arteta was soon in the media room inside Emirates Stadium to tackle questions from the gathered journalists.
The boss was asked about Reiss Nelson's impact, Leoanrdo Trossard's injury, Bournemouth's nine-second goal and his emotions during those frantic final stages.
Read everything he had to say below:
on if he believes in fate:
I do, yes. Why? It was an extraordinary day, a beautiful experience at the end. Very dramatic, but worth living it because it was a great end.
on how he describes the emotions of the last few minutes:
Probably that everyone is a bit overwhelmed. It was madness from the first second of the game; that routine we knew they could do. They did it brilliantly but we defended so poorly. We had to climb a mountain against 10 players behind the ball. We tried in every single way. We didn’t score the goal and suddenly we were 2-0 down because of a set-play.
After that, [it was about] don’t lose the shape, don’t lose the discipline and start to do all the simple things right and try to score the first one. We did that. We showed a lot of maturity and resilience to do that. Once we did it, the atmosphere and the place changed the energy. Then it was about going for the second one. We created a lot of situations. I think we had 31 shots in total. When we scored the second one, it was: ‘OK, let’s throw the toys out and go for it’. I thought the subs made a huge impact today. I’m so happy for Reiss after the difficult months he’s had. It was an incredible day at the end.
on the character of the players:
The team and individuals showed a different level of willingness to win, determination and initiative today. When the game gets ugly, there’s a moment that you can lose momentum, you can start to hide and start to navigate through the game. The players didn’t do that. They wanted the game, they wanted the ball every time, they took risks, they took initiative and kept trying until we broke them down. It was great to see that from the team.
on how his heart rate is now:
It’s crazy - you lose sight of where you are. I started to run and didn’t really know what I was running to. Just looking at the faces of everybody - the staff, the players, our supporters with those smiles and that joy in their eyes. It’s just great to live.
on if Mikel wanted Reiss to shoot:
I don’t know. In training, if we told him 50 times to put it there, I don’t know if he would score but he did it in the perfect moment for the team, for himself. He fully deserves that moment, the kid.
Every team tries everything they can to win a game. You have to respect that. Referees are here to make decisions. I was talking to Andre [Marriner, fourth official] and he told me straight away it was at least six minutes. Today, thankfully we had enough time to win the game.
on if Smith Rowe’s substitution was planned:
We didn’t plan to throw him in so early in the game. We knew it was difficult for him to last for 70 minutes on the field after missing almost five months of football. I think he had a good impact in the game and at the end I felt we needed something else, especially on the left because we were lacking a threat and attracting more players to that side. That’s why we made the decision to bring Reiss on.
on if Mikel has ever heard the stadium like that:
Probably the loudest and the most emotional moment we have lived together. The journey we have been on together… how the supporters and the team are together, added to that moment we had today. It was really special.
on if there’s an update on Trossard's injury:
It is a worry. He came to me straight away and told me he could not continue because he’d felt something when he was tracking back after the corner. We have to assess him and see how he is.
on what it says for Nelson that he can produce moments like that:
I always saw the potential, the talent and the desire for him to do it but I think he’s at a different level right now. I think emotionally, the experiences he’s had has helped him. Football-wise, it was my decision not to put him in the squad in the last two games because we had other options. But he’s knocking on the door. He’s been training really well and it’s a good lesson for me and the coaches that we need him and that he can really be important in the team.
on Bournemouth’s early opener:
Credit to them. They try many different things from kick-off, they have routines for every single set-play. I’m sure they worked on it and today they scored a really good goal. It was really poor from us.
on if Martinelli will play more centrally with Trossard out:
The way they were defending, we thought it was the best way to do it. We have alternatives - Emile can play in that position as well, we can move players and Reiss can give us width and threat in wider areas. We’ll have to assess every opponent because they’ll be different. Now we have Sporting CP, a really tough match, so let’s hope we’ll have one or two back.
on how Mikel will focus the players for the next match:
First, let’s enjoy tonight please. I told everybody to have some fun. When you go through moments like this, you have to enjoy it because there aren’t a lot in football. Tomorrow we’ll go back to work.
on what a win like this can do for belief and momentum in the title race:
That’s four in a row - winning four games in a row in the Premier League is very difficult. We’ve won three in a week, which is even harder, and we’ve done it in various ways. That should generate more belief. Today, a lot of things went against the team. Our fault for the first one, then the fact we weren’t scoring, the situation with Leo, the set-play they had when they scored. The team still found a way to win the game and that’s really positive.
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