Press conference

Every word from Mikel's pre-Bournemouth presser

As the build-up to Saturday's game with Bournemouth continues, Mikel Arteta held his weekly press conference to discuss the game, and numerous topics from around the club.

On the agenda for the boss this week was his relationship with Scott Parker, Fabio Vieira's first outing in an Arsenal shirt, and even open training sessions for our supporters.

Here is everything Arteta said during the briefing:

on the latest team news: 

Everybody is OK. As you saw, we had Cedric, Fabio and Emile play with the under-21s and they look fit, they trained with us all week so they are available for selection.

on the confidence of the squad right now:

It’s great to win and perform the way we are performing at the moment, but it’s just two games, we have a whole season ahead of us. Let’s focus on the next match and what we have to do and the areas where we can improve.

on not getting carried away with our good form:

It’s just two games. It’s nothing, the whole season is still to play for. We know that, we are very conscious of that and we are very conscious of the improvements we still need to make as a team to close games better, to play better and this has been our whole aim all week.

on the challenge posed by Bournemouth:

It will be a really tough match. I’ve been there many, many times, I know how tough it is, and I know to expect the atmosphere to be hectic. It’s a team that is used to winning because last year they had a really successful season, and they’ve started well this season. I know Scott Parker very, very well and I know they’re going to make it a really difficult game for us.

on Bournemouth’s style of play:

I think it’s a good mixture between what Bournemouth used to do and what Scott is as a manager, and I think he has evolved the team in a really positive way. They have a really clear idea of how they want to play, a very clear identity as well and they execute that against any opponent and credit to them for what they’re doing.

on Scott Parker’s coaching philosophy:

Really good. I always admired him as a player, his character, I know him personally as well pretty well and I’m really happy for him. The way he presents himself and the way he wants to play this game - I think is great for the game to have managers who want to play the way that he wants to and I wish him the best of luck… apart from tomorrow!

on Parker’s fashion sense:

I think he was always like that as a player as well and I think he presents himself really well.

on Gabriel Jesus’ start with us:

Probably the biggest difference since I worked with him before is his maturity. Obviously, a few years have gone by, a few experiences, and as you mentioned his language has improved so much. He’s got a different role here, you can sense that straight away. I’m glad that he’s having a good time and performing really well for the team.

on the main changes Gabby has made since his time at Manchester City:

Not many differences. I think he has improved a lot of areas in his game because he has more experience, he’s been working on them. For me, what makes the difference with him is his attitude, his willingness and his desire to win every single training session, every single ball in the game and that’s what makes him the player he is.

on the difference a confident striker can make to a team:

Top teams need top scorers and not just one, ideally three. When you have those players and they can hit certain numbers, that gives you every chance to be at the top of the table.

on if our good start has changed our transfer plans:

No, we are still in the same position. Obviously, the market gives you a lot of information and something that maybe you expect that you could get, you are not getting and the same when it’s ins and outs. But we are focused on the players that we have right now and getting the best out of them.

on senior players appearing for the U21s:

One hundred per cent. I think there were three different cases; Marquinhos has been playing with the U21s, and we didn’t believe that it was necessary for him to play again. Fabio and Emile - they have been injured, they haven’t had any minutes, they needed that exposure.

With Cedric it was more a case of giving him the option. He wasn’t in the squad last week, he hasn’t played many minutes in pre-season. We have to give the option for them. He said straight away that he wanted to play, and you can see the attitude that he has. 

on when he starts to look at the league table:

After 10 or 12 games. I think that’s more or less when everything starts to play a little bit, and you understand where you are. Because of the schedule, the fixtures are going to play a big part in that, but I don’t focus too much on that. Probably at the end of March, April - that’s when it really starts to matter. 

on making sure it’s only the right players that are brought in:

It has to be the right person, and it has to be the right player. We want to only bring top quality through that door, otherwise it’s not worth it. 

on if the right player doesn’t come in, and whether he’d be happy with the current squad he has:

I will be totally happy and focused on getting the best out of those players.

on interest in Nicolas Pepe from Nice:

What we can communicate, we always do when it’s the right moment. We discussed that we have a big squad, we have made some decisions and we allowed some players [to leave]. Until the window is closed, everything is possible with any player.

on whether Ainsley Maitland-Niles could be loaned out:

Again we are addressing those things personally, and internally

on whether there’s any update on Hector Bellerin:

Not at the moment. No update and it’s like the other situations. 

on Granit Xhaka, and how proud he is with him:

He doesn’t need the armband to be one of the leaders. It’s his personality and the way he approaches his profession that makes him a special player. I think he’s very important for the team. He’s showing that. What we need from him is that he performs the same way or better. 

on the idea of open training sessions at Emirates Stadium:

I think anything that is bringing us closer to our supporters, we have to try to do it. The club is looking into that.

on what he remembers from his first game in charge, against Bournemouth:

It was raining, I got very wet! I was excited and nervous, and very much looking forward to what was coming. It seems like a long time ago.

on how he’s changed as a manager since then:

Very much I think. I think the team and the club needs a certain person in each phase and in each moment. I think that the coach or the manager that the team needed, or the club needed a year ago is different to what it needs today. You have to constantly be evolving because now we have to drive this club into a different speed.

Before there were moments where we probably had to give a lot of protection, and keep the players in the right place to not fall apart. So this is evolving and we as individuals - especially the people who have a lot of decision making - have to inspire others, have to evolve and change as well. 

on whether he now feels like the team has his stamp on it:

It was from the first day, because I made the decision to come here and coach those players. I always felt that they were our players, and we always tried to get the best out of them, and try to improve them. Obviously, when we start to recruit, we want to recruit alongside the club, with players that we believe together can make the difference, and this is what we have been doing. 

on Aaron Ramsdale facing criticism:

I think Aaron has been really good at the start of the season. What you have seen [in the documentary series] is a very specific moment. If you put the cameras on when someone makes a mistake, you see they’re hurting and it takes a few days to swallow and you can see how much the families suffer. I think it’s good to see that insight that players really care.

on whether he’s considering playing Fabio Vieira on the right:

Fabio’s versatility is something that caught our eye and we believe that he is going to give us a lot of options. It’s about nurturing how they work together and the type of players that Fabio needs around him to exploit his qualities, which we feel in this side could be very powerful, so we will have to wait and see how that develops. 

on how Marquinhos has settled in:

I’m very happy with him. He’s adapted very well and he’s a really likeable figure in the dressing room and around Colney. His language is not great yet but I think his physicality has been pretty exceptional, for someone who has come from Brazil and has a different way to train and play, but he’s done it. 

I think he’s got the qualities for how we want to play. We will keep him here for another few months and makes sure that he establishes himself at the club and in the team, and afterwards we’ll see what the best movement for his career.

on whether he’ll feature in the Premier League:

For every player, there is the option to play there. If he trains and convinces us that he is at the level to do that, then he will have that opportunity.

on tying Bukayo Saka down to a new contract:

I’m very confident that we as a club, Bukayo and his family and his agent are very much aligned on what we want to achieve. I would like that to get done because I don’t want the player or anybody distracted in the middle of the season, but those things take time and have to go through the right process.

on a potential partnership between Vieira and Smith Rowe:

We want players that make each other better, and in order to do that, first of all there has to be a chemistry between those players, an understanding and timing and different qualities that they need in order to get what we want to get done.

We are building that relationship; Fabio has been training with us for a week so he needs to develop that and see where he clicks and where he can make a big impact for the team.

on whether that will help improve the decision-making in the final third:

We need to continue developing that and be more unpredictable and a bigger threat going forward. 

on whether he intends to go to as many U21s games as possible:

When we have the time, we want to take the opportunity to be there, be close to them and give support to Mehmet, the coaches and the players. We need to build the connection between the first-team and the academy and be very much aligned in how we want to play, evolve our players and basically get the talent into the first-team. That’s the aim that we have as a club.

on managing a deep squad:

I think the first three or four weeks of the competition are tricky because we are only playing once a week as there is no Europe or no cups, and we’ll have the manage the frustration of players who aren’t in the squad. But it is a long season and everyone will have their opportunities.

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