Press conference

Every word of Mikel’s pre-Chelsea press conference

Mikel Arteta spoke to the media at Sobha Realty Training Centre for his pre-Chelsea press conference on Monday afternoon.

He was asked about our 2-0 win at Wolves, his thoughts on Chelsea and Mauricio Pochettino and much more.

Here is everything he had to say on the following subjects...

on the message to the players this week:
Same messages. Keep doing what we’ve been doing, focus on the game, on the task, prepare the game really well. That’s what we’ve tried to do with the time we had available and the boys looked ready to go again.

on how much character the team is showing:
It was a good test to see how we reacted to certain obstacles and how much we want it basically and what we are capable of doing when the task raises the level of demands and some people are questioning. It’s the moment that you have to step up and certainly the team did that.

on Cole Palmer being a doubt for the game:
I don’t know. We have no control over their player’s availability. We can only control ours. Whoever they put out there, when you look at the squad they have, the quality they have, it’s great. I think they’re doing very, very well. I think they’re doing much better than people talk and it will be a tough match for sure.

on if he is surprised by Chelsea’s league position:
I think the journey of those clubs are very, very different. Nothing to compare in my opinion. It’s a huge admiration for Mauricio because I’ve known him since 23 years ago and I really wish him all the best. He’s an incredible manager, he’s a huge leader and he will inspire the club to get what they want to get, that’s for sure.

on Nottingham Forest’s tweet yesterday:
I don’t know. I’m not involved in that. I’ve been involved in a few and that’s nothing for me to comment.

on our call for improvement in officiating earlier in the season:
I don’t know. I think we’re all trying to improve the game in the best possible way and we are all aligned. Things are going to happen, they will happen in the future as well and when it touches you it’s very difficult and you have to sympathise with that because we’ve all been there.

on if it’s fair how referees are selected for games:
I don’t know, we aren’t involved in that. I’m sure they’re doing whatever they think is the best solution, the best process and it’s constantly in review. Everything that we do is evolving and is in constant evolution. They will try to get it better and better and I’m certain that will happen.

on how big the win at Wolves was:
In terms of size it was quite good. It really meant a lot to us. We are in a great position in the Premier League, we’ve been like this for nine months, nine and a half months, where we want really to give it a real go and be really determined to do what is in our hands to try to lift that trophy and tomorrow we’re going to have a very tough opponent in front of us and we will try to overcome that opponent again.

on if the margins are tighter for the title this season:
They are because obviously you depend on another two teams as well. When you talk about, as I always said, the best two teams in the decade of this league and in my opinion two of the best in the history of this league, this is where we are.

on what he has made of Chelsea lately:
Huge improvements. I think they deserve to be in a much higher position in the league, when you look at what they’ve done and what they’ve produced in games – they’ve reached a final, they’ve reached a semi-final, they could have been through. I think what Mauricio is doing is really impressive, so I’m sure that he’s going to get them there.

on if he enjoys facing Pochettino:
Enjoy? I have to play against him, he has to play against me! It’s two huge clubs, a London derby, a massive game for us and we have prepared in the best possible way.

on if officiating needs to change:
No, I think it will evolve. The game is evolving, I think the officiating will probably evolve in the direction of the game, and the technology as well. There will be new rules for sure, they’ll implement the rules in the future, and we have to be open to that.

on if VAR decisions are made quicker in Europe:
Super-fast, I was fascinated. In two seconds, you can see five different screens so I would like to review that process.

on if the fixture schedule needs to be changed:
I already gave my opinion about it last week and I understand that it’s a really important topic, but I said what I think, and let’s see if there are any improvements and we’ll look after the players as good as we possibly can between all of us. It’s not just an individual responsibility, it’s all the factors, the clubs that are involved heavily as well, with the broadcasters, the FA; it’s a lot of decisions to be made and I think we need to sit down and re-think what we are doing.

on how close players are to being burned out:
I don’t know, when I saw this morning, I had to stop them, because winning as well is a big boost of energy. After the performance against Wolves, and winning, and now having to play the London derby tomorrow, everybody is ready for it. Something else is just the amount and the volume of those games, it’s not the moment for us to look at that, we have to think about it in a positive way and feel and think that we are fresh to perform in the best possible way.

on if referees should come from other countries to the Premier League:
We have to be open to everything, so we have owners from everywhere, directors, from everywhere, managers, players, I don’t know. I think we have to look in-house, I think there is already a very strong programme to develop referees, because it was something that was already explained which would take to process. They are on it, we’re not going to make that decision, it’s a decision for them to understand who is the best to take charge of it.

on if he worked with Palmer at Man City:
No, he was too young.

on our record against the biggest teams and what has changed psychologically:
Whether it’s psychology, whether it’s performance, or if it’s getting better as team. Obviously, the more you win against big teams, the more belief you have that you can do it consistently. We prepare every game to beat them and tomorrow definitely, it will be the same and we’ll have to prove on the pitch whether we are capable or not.

on if we go into the game as the dominant side:
When you look at the history of what they've done in the last 20 years, there is a difference. A big difference. We need to do that and we haven't done any of that yet.

on having more change on the left side of the team than the right:
Well, the fact is as well that we've had a lot of injuries on that side. Obviously, the fact that we haven't had Thomas for six, seven months has affected us in a way to play Declan in a different position. But I look at it as something really positive as well, that we have the possibility to change players and find different dynamics and units within the side.

on Chelsea’s project:
I’m not the person. I can talk about what we have done but what other clubs do is entirely up to them. And they will have the vision and will be very clear how they're going to get where they want to get.

on if he would like to have one billion pounds to spend in the transfer window:
Depends. I like a lot what I have. And I'm very pleased with that.

on if spending money guarantees success:
I think that’s a very short sample, because if you look at the history of the Premier League in the last 20 years, at the clubs that have spent the most and what has happened, I think there is a big relation. So depending on how you look at it.

on if Chelsea will come good eventually:
I'm convinced they will. With that squad? Yes. And with the manager they have? Yes.

on if Timber could be involved against Spurs on Sunday:
That's a quick step. Let's see how he feels today. He's been training really good. He looks ready. He needs that exposure and after that, we'll assess whether that game comes at the right time or too fast. We’ll try to get him with us for the final games. 

on if the Euros with Netherlands is too soon for him:
At the moment, it looks really far because he hasn't played any football. So let's see how he goes tonight. Let's see if he can contribute in an impactful way to our system. And then we'll see what happens in the summer.

on why Odegaard fulfilled his potential:
Fulfil his potential? Hopefully not. Hopefully, there is still more to come. He's still very young and he’s made huge steps In the last few seasons. He's got a massive role at the club and hopefully we can keep growing. 

on how Martin lived up to his ‘wonder kid’ brand:
Especially because he had to wear that label since he was 14 or 15 and that's not easy. But I think he has handled that in a great way. I think the steps that he made as well to to progress and to have minutes and develop his career. Especially when he went to Real Sociedad - I think it was a really intelligent move. And then from there, I think he took off and now we have the player that we have.

on how important he has been in building the team to challenge for the title:
Well, he's our captain. He’s one of our main players and when you look at the impact he has with us daily, it’s amazing. So we are really happy to have him.

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