Friday afternoon saw Mikel Arteta once again undertake his pre-match media duties ahead of our game against Brighton & Hove Albion, including his pre-match press conference.
The boss tackled questions about our injured players, contract rumours, individuals' recent performances and his thoughts on Brighton's impressive campaign so far.
Here is everything he had to say:
on Oleksandr Zinchenko and William Saliba’s injury statuses:
We have another session tomorrow before the Brighton game, and we are trying to get players back for that. Today we haven’t trained on the pitch, so we’ll know more tomorrow. With William [Saliba], it’s for sure that he’s not going to be fit for this game and we are doubting whether he will be fit for the next game as well. But we want to keep the hope going and make sure that we give ourselves the best chance of having them back.
on if this could be an opportunity for Kieran Tierney should Zinchenko be out:
There are opportunities for everybody. In every game they have to show that they are up to it and then that we make the right or the wrong decision with the line-up, giving the players the minutes that they deserve. It’s very difficult with players in this sport because you pick 11 to play and some to be sub and it’s not always right. You do it all the time with your best intention.
on Jakub Kiwior’s recent performances:
He’s been really impressive, really composed, really calm. He’s been brilliant against two very difficult opponents, with a lot of individual talents. He’s defended many situations and dealt with them in a great way.
on the latest on Aaron Ramsdale - and if there’s a contract on the table for him:
At the moment there’s nothing to announce with an individual. We’ll do that as a club like we always do, but it’s not the moment to talk about that.
on if the talk around Ramsdale allegedly being offered a new deal credit to his performances:
Yeah - we are very happy with him, the way he’s developed, the way he’s performed and the trajectory that he’s had in the last two seasons has been remarkable. We’re really happy with him and he’s a really important player for us.
on if Arsenal would be willing to break the club transfer record this summer:
The conversation now has to be Brighton and the games that we have. We are playing to win the title. We want to be fully focused on that and all those [other] things are distractions and we don’t want to be anywhere near that.
on if the win against Newcastle gave him renewed hope the title race will go to the wire:
Every time you win, every time you play well, every time you feel like you’re competing at a level that is required to win this league, it gives you hope. It’s not in our hands and on Sunday we’re certainly going to need to be at our best again and try to win the game. If we win the game, we will be a little bit closer.
on if the Newcastle win was one of his best experiences as a manager:
The feeling of the last game is the most recent one. It was a special one because they’re a top side, they’ve been extremely good at home and are building something really powerful. We managed to go there, play our own way and win. Especially after what happened there last year, the meaning of it was a bit more than with any other game.
on if it will be even more challenging to play Brighton, given their last result:
For sure, and because they are a really [complete] side. The way they are playing under Roberto and the coaching staff is remarkable, it’s just a joy to watch them play. He’s brought a different idea to the league and that’s a different challenge for managers as well. This is what you want. We want to be the best league in the world and we need the best managers and the best players. What he’s done with the team, after all the foundations that Graham Potter left at the club, is incredible. It’s [going to be] a very tough match.
on how different Sunday’s match will be to the League Cup defeat earlier in the season:
We beat them [away] as well, so they were two very different games. When you look at the line-up [for the League Cup match], there were 10 changes. They were very similar games in certain moments with different outcomes, but extremely tricky with the way they play and to handle certain things they do. It’s the same for them with the way we play.
on his respect for Brighton:
It’s incredible. They have a really clear vision, they’ve been ahead of many other clubs in the way they have handled and made decisions. The way they have developed players, recruited talent, the way they have set up the club. The people that they recruit as well is really impressive. I think they have done extremely well.
on if our players believe they can still challenge for the title:
That’s what we’re here for. It starts on Sunday again, there’s three games to go, this is the crucial one and right now we want to beat them and elevate our hopes and enthusiasm to keep going because everything is still to play for.
on if we should try to replicate Brighton’s model:
No, you cannot replicate it. I think the model that Brighton has is great for Brighton, we cannot have the same model, we have to have a different model. I’m sure there are things we can apply to our model that they do extremely well, but it’s a different model, they have different demands, they have a different size of club, and probably a different approach as well, so it would be a mistake in my opinion to try to do that.
on how this season can set us up for future successes:
I will answer that question at the end of the season! Now it’s how proud I am, the preparation and how mentally, physically and tactically we are ready to go on Sunday and be at our best and win the game.
on Martin Odegaard’s progress as a goalscorer this season:
It’s great. Those are the demands that he puts on himself, those are areas that he had huge margins to improve and he’s making huge steps in the right direction to become a game-winner, which is with the profile and role that he has in the team to do that. Then you need really good teammates around you, which he has and that helps as well.
on Odegaard embracing the role of captain:
He has this character that everybody respects, everybody admires, and everybody follows. He does it in his own way; there are many ways of leading a team and he has a unique one because it’s his own one and we don’t want to take anything away from that. We are really happy that he represents the club in the way that he does and the team and every individual. He needs to continue to develop those skills in the best way because the demands will keep increasing and his role hopefully as well
on how we’ve rediscovered our confidence lately:
By playing well, by being on top of the game and individually raising the level that has been something critical and really important when you get to this stage of the season. Once you’ve done that, that has a huge impact on the team’s performance. The team has been playing well, scoring goals and winning matches, so it’s a good mixture.
on if there was frustration that we lost it:
We, the coaches, have a responsibility to help them more, and the frustration comes with how we can help them more, and what we can do better to facilitate what they’re going to be confronted with at the weekend. Cutting out mistakes was a huge one and trying to anticipate why that was happening. Now we have done that, we can the results have come back again.
on Brighton showing how competitive the Premier League is:
The level of every organisation is much better than it was been before. The level of the players, the staff and the coaches - everything has improved. Physically it’s much more demanding, and every detail and every phase of play is dominated in the right way by every opponent, and that makes the game fascinating because there are a lot of things that can go your way or not go your way in the small margins, and that is the Premier League right now for every team.
on if he has had to remind all the squad they may be called upon to play in huge games:
We discussed that six months ago. To win a championship or a big tournament, you’re going to need all your players and have the capacity to deal with injuries, bad decisions and personal problems. The squad has to have the capacity and quality to absorb and overcome those situations and they are coming, unfortunately.
on parking contract talks and focusing on the title:
Where we are with each individual is different in terms of timing, but the clarity is there. We have communicated with each of them what the intentions are and we are trying to get that done as quickly as possible, but without losing any focus.
on reports linking Granit Xhaka with a move away:
I am not going to be replying to certain stories but I am extremely happy with Granit. I think he is having an incredible season, probably the best he is having at the club and we are really happy to have him.
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