Mikel Arteta held his pre-AFC Bournemouth press conference at London Colney on Friday morning, and you can read everything the boss had to say below.
See what the boss had to say on the latest team news, his friendship with Andoni Iraola, how things have changed since his first game against Bournemouth and more.
Here's everything Mikel had to say:
on the fitness of Declan, Gabriel Martinelli, Leandro and Bukayo:
Declan wasn’t available and had to leave the London derby. He hasn’t trained yet. We have another session in an hour or two so we’ll have more news about him today. Gabriel hasn’t trained and we want him back, we need him back, but at the moment he’s not been available. Leandro - same situation. Bukayo - same situation.
on when the judgment will be made on Bukayo:
The assessment is ‘okay, is he fit enough and good enough to be able to be selected tomorrow?’ That’s the question mark and so far he hasn’t trained with the team.
on whether some of those are nearer than others:
They’re all in the same pool. William as well had a knock, Fabio as well wasn’t involved in the last game, so we have to assess them today, see how they are and adapt to the situation because that’s a big number.
on if Saka wants to keep his consecutive run of Premier League games going:
Well that would mean that he’s feeling good, you know? B has got now enough experience and understanding of when he’s ready to help the team and when he’s not, but that’s what all the managers want to hear, that they want to play and they are feeling good to play. That’s the most important thing.
on if the keeper that starts will have a surname beginning with R:
You are a genius! I have my answer for the rest of the season. Thank-you so much for your co-operation.
on his first game as manager being against Bournemouth:
Obviously there have been a lot of changes. It’s been a while now, it’s been three and a half years, so almost four years since that moment, a really special one. A lot of things changed, many of them are positive and I’m loving the journey, that’s for sure.
on Andoni Iraola:
We know each other really well. We played together, we had fantastic times together, we played in Antiguoko, it’s a team in San Sebastián that has produced a lot of players over the years. They do fantastic work and we are privileged to be raised there, to be educated there, and that’s the beauty of football - that 30, 40 years later, we are together in the Premier League both as managers, and I’m really happy for him.
on why many coaches come from the Basque region:
Well first of all it’s the passion about the game, about football. I think the education that we get and the level of coaches there is really good. Everybody takes care of the academy. You have to see Real Sociedad, Atletico Bilbao, Eibar, all those teams do fantastic work to raise talent and it’s not a coincidence that a lot of players have come through that.
on how he compares his team today to the one that won 3-0 at Vitality Stadium last season:
Very difficult to compare. We want to play like we did that day, even better and still win the game. We have some changes and the team is in a different moment. The objective is going to be the same - to be better than Bournemouth - and beat them. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.
on if there were two world class goalkeepers fighting for the number one spot during his playing career:
Yes. Since I was 13 years old. One in Atiguoko and the other in Barcelona. My two goalkeepers in the team were Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina.
on if it inspires him in the way he manages the current situation:
I don’t know, but I was so safe. I looked back and I had Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes. I was like ‘we have a big chance to win the game.’
on his biggest challenge in terms of improving the team this season:
Playing better every day. Playing better and better and suffocating the opponent more, creating more chances, conceding zero, and play as far as possible from our goal.
on the most difficult situation:
It’s all linked and the opponent has a big say on that, you know? You face different behaviours from opponents, different concepts. Games open up when you score early, when you don’t, when you concede, when you have errors, a lot of things effect it, but continue winning.
on being unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions this season:
For sure and we have to continue to do that and that’s the mindset that we want to bring to every single game within any context. We’ve had very different context’s throughout the season already and that’s going to keep changing. As you can see now, with the amount of situations that we have in the team with uncertainty of players, it’s going to be more. Playing every three days, having to win, having to compete in three different competitions in seven days and that’s the challenge. We’re up for it, that’s for sure.
on how to instil confidence in the team:
Well it’s a huge thing and it’s an individual one and it’s a collective one. And then it’s the one that’s external as well, and confidence can obviously transmit to each other. Playing well and winning matches is always the best thing to do and we are in a good moment.
on putting aside his friendship with the Bournemouth manager:
I think it’s very easy. You are in winning mode, compete, get the best out of your team and get into battle. Before and after is a different story, especially after, but during, there is nothing there.
on if he’ll see him after the game:
For sure. Yes.
on Kai Havertz and how to get the best out of him:
Try to help him as much as possible. Be next to him, give him the tools, give him the confidence and give him the minutes to exploit his talent. There are so many parts of his game that he's doing exceptionally well and we know the one that needs to keep improving. But as always, with any player, it’s about giving support - especially when you see a player that does what he does every single day and the way he tries, the way he applies himself. You give them support and more tools and if they don't perform, it's because of us.
on if he’ll play his way into form:
Yes. He needs to play within the team because the amount of time that he's played with these forward players is three or four times, and we're going to have to carry on doing that. We certainly try to give him as much support and confidence as we possibly can because that's going to help him for sure.
on Tomiyasu being back to his best after playing for Japan recently:
I always say that I'm really confident the moment Tomi has consistency, because it’s going to be a tremendous asset for us. He can play in any position in the backline, any formation in the backline - we don't have a player like him. His defending is probably one of the best that I've seen in many situations. His principles and the way he applies them, the way he goes into duels. Now he needs a run of games that get him physically at his best. When Tomi is at his best, we're going to have a player who is going to be so important for us.
on his calmness as a player:
Especially the way he reads danger and the way he resolves urgent situations with a lot composure in the right way. He is a skilled defender but the way his body is built makes him a really complete player who is really difficult to run past. He's always alert, he's been raised and educated well and is always super focused. For our defenders, that’s a big attribute.
on his memories of Andoni, who said Mikel was the player above the rest:
I will say the same! I think he was better technically than everybody else. He used to play as a winger when he was younger, and then as he got a little bit older in his career, he played as a fullback. He was an incredible fullback, inverted fullback and it would have been a dream for any manager to have a player like him. Really intelligent, really skillful and I’m very happy that I was able to play with him.
on if he spoke to him about the Bournemouth job:
Yes, I did. He was really excited to come and and was really complimentary about the club. The support that he was getting, the players, his staff. He was so happy to be part of the league.
on if Saliba and Vieira will play tomorrow:
Let's see how everybody is today. Obviously they weren't selected for a reason and we need to assess them again today.
on the issues with them:
They weren't fit enough to be in the squad.
on if there is hope for the six players being fit for Saturday:
My hope is that everybody's fit and available because we need them with the amount of games that we already have under the belt in the past two weeks and what is coming in the next seven to 10 days. Yeah, we need them so hopefully today, we get some good news.
on why these injuries have occurred:
Different reasons. Some of them happened in training, and some of them had knocks and small muscular niggles. But the load played a part. Going to their national teams, coming back from their national teams, the load went through the roof. The demands continue to be really high and and the fact that we had three or four out already meant that they didn't have enough time to recover.
on if that impacts his thinking for Man City next week:
It’s about now. It’s about Bournemouth, and this is the most important game that we have now in the season. That's it.
on his five phase plan:
I don't have time in between games right now to talk about it. The phase that we are in right now is 24 hours to prepare a game in the best possible way to beat Bournemouth and then we can get into the international break a bit calmer.
on Reiss Nelson finding rhythm over the past few months:
Well, the first thing is availability and to find consistency, you need to be available. If you miss periods, you know your peak of form is going to be disrupted and then you're going to have fewer chances to play. He had a niggle in pre-season which meant he was out but now he's come back and he's finally in form. We need him - he has really special qualities to play in wide areas in both positions and especially with the situation we have now with different players, it’s been really important.
on if his role is as an impact player off the bench:
No. We have to assume he is a starter as well. We want to have a team that is more unpredictable and has the resources to rotate. Everyone has to become a starter - that's what we've noticed.
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