After seeing us record a convincing 4-0 success over Everton, Mikel Arteta was swiftly inside the Emirates Stadium press conference room to tackle questions from journalists.
He was asked about being five points clear at the top of the league, the chemistry we have in the team and the goalscoring exploits of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.
Here is everything he had to say:
on whether he’s delighted with the performance:
I’m really happy. It was a game that we had in hand against an opponent that we knew was going to make life really difficult for us and we expected that at Goodison. We started the game with some frustration and not really understanding what we had to do, allowing them to run in certain transitions, but after 25 minutes I think we start to get much better and the timing of the two goals was key.
We needed a magic moment there and Alex and Bukayo produced that, and then I think the team grew, especially with Thomas because Jorginho wasn’t feeling good today. When he came on he really gave us some presence and stability to the team and I think the second half was superb.
on the resilience and mental strength shown by his squad:
When you look at them every single day, you just feel how much they want it, how much they really want to produce what we ask them to do and how much they want to please our people. I had no doubts that we were going to turn things around in performances and results in the small details that make you win or not win, but I am really pleased with where the team is right now.
on Martinelli and Saka hitting double digits for goals this season:
It’s a credit to them because in the end, they have to do it themselves, but we try to help them with our way of playing by trying to get them in those positions as much as possible. They are so willing to learn, they are asking for more and more every single day, and they never have enough information, they want more. They want the space, they want the practice and at the end when you have that and you have the talent that they have and the ideas that they have, at the end good things will happen.
on Zinchenko’s importance on and off the pitch:
That’s why we brought him here, because he brings something different to the team. His mentality and his quality to do certain things allows us to be unpredictable and to generate a lot of threat every time we are in ball possession. He’s played those kind of games against low blocks 200 times and that’s very helpful.
on Martinelli’s understanding with Trossard:
I think relationships are built in teams and that chemistry comes naturally, and when you see him play with Fabio more together, he has even more chemistry because they love each other so much, and they have that way of looking at each other and understanding what’s going to have. He’s also building that with Leandro and he’s feeling a bit more freedom to move into certain areas, and now his confidence is high again. He’s scoring goals, he’s assisting goals and he’s in a good mood.
on Zinchenko and Saka’s link-up for the first goal:
You have to produce those magic moments and as you said, take that initiative and have the mentality that "I’m going to do it on the pitch - I’m not going to wait for somebody else to do it." When you have a few players with the willingness and capacity to do that, you have a better chance to win more games.
on Martinelli and Vieira’s chemistry potentially being utilised in the coming weeks:
Yes, for sure.
on if we’re now favourites to win the league:
You know my answer there! What I like is that everybody has the enthusiasm to do it, and we’re not going to stop that - we have to promote that but the way to promote that is by looking at this game and understanding that we have to do a lot of things better, especially in the first half. We can play better and make sure we prepare really well against Bournemouth because that’s going to be a tough game.
on no-one envisioning us being in this position at the start of the season:
I think we are here because we work how we work and we have really good players, and we have an incredible connection with our people so everything adds to the table and we have to continue to do that.
on if he is encouraging the players to go for the title:
With my players, I am going to control what they do in the next hour so they are better.
on the key to reducing any tension:
It is about expectation - the less games, you need the points to win the league and just to stay focused when you can control what you have to do and let the rest happen naturally because it’s something that nobody else can control.
on Eddie Nketiah limping off post-match:
Hopefully he is fine, he ended the game well but he has been carrying a little thing.
on the players being relentless:
It is something that we have to train and discuss and build. It is not easy, but a lot of time it happens through experiences and most of the time they are experiences that you don’t want to go through, but the calendar and fixtures are going to give that. Sometimes you are where we are now, sometimes it is three points, two points, minus two - it is going to happen and we have to live with that.
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