Press conference

Every word from Mikel's pre-Brighton presser

After guiding his team to 10 games unbeaten in the Premier League, Mikel Arteta attended his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Brighton aiming to make that 11.

He was asked about injuries, Brighton's form this season, keeping up the title race and utilising different styles of play, among many other topics.

Here is everything he had to say:

on Bukayo Saka’s fitness:
We will know now. We have a training session in a few hours and we will know whether he is fit or not. Everyone else seems OK.

on how happy he was on Wednesday after his changes:
I was obviously very pleased with the result and performance and the fact that everybody responded in the way that we expected. When you make changes there is a possibility because they haven't played that much but I think the boys were really good.

on if Emile Smith Rowe came bouncing into training:
You could see that but I think an example is Reiss. In the the previous game, he was not in the squad and the next game he's ready to start. If someone doesn’t react the way he did after, you are not ready to perform so I'm really pleased with that kind of reaction in the team. Emile was really strong in the game.

on if our four away games are where the title will be won or lost:
Yes, but at home as well. We have the Champions League games and we have some big games at home, so every game in this league is extremely difficult. You look at last night what happened again and everybody is just suffering to win because the level is so high and we're going to have a really tough opponent again in Brighton. We know that, so we’ll prepare well and try to be better than them and try to win.

on whether he was watching two games simultaneously last night:
I was watching a bit of both to be fair and until late but the Chelsea v Manchester United one was worth it, until the end it was fantastic. It's unbelievable the league that we are involved in, it’s a joy - the level and the quality of the players and the show that they put on, it's just fantastic.

on whether he was watching in a Sheffield United shirt:

on Thomas Partey wanting to stay at the club:
He better have his head here because we are playing for big things and that's what we expect. We need him because he's a top player and a very important player for us and you could see on the pitch the impact he can have for us. He’s our player, he’s got one more year on his contract and I'm really happy with him.

on Kai Havertz’s contributions this season:
I’m very pleased. He’s got incredible qualities to occupy different spaces in the attacking phase, to threaten the goal, to link up play, and when you have to be more direct as well he'll give you that layout. Not only that, but I also think his contribution defensively is outstanding for the team, with his work rate, and the effort he is putting in the high press especially. He’s got more to come, more games to come, he needs to improve the numbers and I’m sure he will try to do it.

on whether we have seen Kai's best yet:
I don’t think so. At this age, and he’s just started with us, it’s his first season, he’s building those relationships. He’s moving in those positions as well and he’s that good, and with the intelligent that he has he can be much better.

on being happy about our defensive record in 2024:
For sure, because I talked about, first of all the organisation in the team in a defensive phase and then the desire that the players have to keep clean sheets, defend well and make it difficult for our opponents. That gives us a big platform and, on the weekend, that’s going to be a really important thing because they’re a top side.

on Roberto de Zerbi’s work at Brighton:
I'm very impressed. He’s a top manager with a top coaching staff. I think they’re an unbelievable football club, what they have done deserves incredible credit. The way they run the football club, the decisions they have made and how they have established themselves in the league, and now fighting with the top clubs as well, I think they’ve done a magnificent job. I think Roberto has given a very clear style and attractive way of playing football, and they make life very difficult for the opponent.

on what more we need to do to win the title:
Win more games! That’s what we have to do. We’re still not at the top and we have to transform that into winning and winning and winning, and it’s the only way to have the chance in the last game of the season to do it.

on whether he is surprised we have scored most and conceded fewest but still aren’t top:
This is the level and it’s been the level in this league for the past six or seven years. The margins are so small, let’s see those numbers at the end of the last game and hopefully if those are maintained, I think we have a good chance.

on whether he is most pleased with the defensive or scoring record:
Only the winning one! That’s the one that I want. Obviously the process is super important and at the end you want that to reflect in the outcome, which is what we are hoping for.

on whether it’s a compliment that de Zerbi didn’t want to think about Arsenal yet:
We all think the same about our opponents. I have the same feeling with them. We finished the game [on Wednesday] and straight away I was into Brighton and what we have to do, select the best line-up as well. The things we have to plan, to train how we have to train and give them the right recovery and be ready to win again.

on whether he will watch our title rivals’ games:
I don’t know, I have to feel it – every game will be different. I think my wife and kids will have a big say on that as well. My little one will come and want to play with Lego or go outside and play football or do something else. But I think I will watch the majority of those games, but for sure it will be with them.

on how much of his coaching philosophy is about stopping opponents:
If you want to dominate games and if you want to suffocate opponents you have to have the ball, and when you have it use it in the best possible way with a maximum threat. When you don’t, try to win it as soon as possible and as far as possible down the pitch. When you cannot do that, you have to do something else. But they all know how important that is in football, every phase of play is to be fair.

on influences he has had in management throughout his career:
I have learned a lot from all of my coaches. David Moyes is a really good example not only in that sense but in many other things that he does that I really admire. You try to pick things there and blend it and make it your own.

on not being involved in chaotic games very often anymore:
We have been involved in a few of those, probably not that recently! I don’t know, as a spectator and a football fan, Chelsea v Manchester United was a hell of a game.

on if he is worried about Bukayo burning out towards the end of the season:
I’m super positive, I think he’s going to fly and be so decisive.

on his ability to recover from setbacks quickly:
Because he’s so strong, and how much he wants it. When you talk to him and how excited he is about what is coming, he wants to be there. He’s getting better and better and it’s normal to have little niggles. You have kicks and he’s gone through a lot of that in the last two or three years and now look at the way he’s performing.

on if Emile is part of his plans going forward:
Yes. I look at him and what happened in the last two seasons especially with him. What happened three seasons ago as well. Take all that. It’s the best thing that could’ve happened for him in his career if he uses it in the right way now, so don’t look back and say 'if, if'. No, this happened, use it. That was the best thing that could’ve happened. 'I had a great moment, I had a difficult moment, now I know what I want and how to deal with that. That’s going to make me a much better player'. You can see the hell of a player that we have in him when he’s fit and playing at that level.

on Rob Edwards saying we have no weaknesses:
I see them. Managers probably see all the time what we don’t have than rather than what we actually have, but it’s good to hear from other managers what they think about the team. We can still evolve a lot and will try to do that.

on the areas we can improve in:
I cannot tell you this! But I think we have many areas.

on if we are winning games in the tunnel by intimidating teams with our aura:
It’s very difficult to have the feeling of what the opponents are feeling. I’ve been in the tunnel playing with a different shirt and looking at the Invincibles and I did have the feeling that tonight is going to be really tough. Hopefully we can create that and that’s something very positive for the team.

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