Before facing Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night. Mikel Arteta was in front of the cameras at London Colney to tackle questions from the press ahead of the game.
He gave an injury update, as well as his thoughts on how the title race is shaping up and what he makes of our opponents ahead of our final London derby of the campaign.
Here is everything he had to say:
on whether he has the same squad to pick from:
I can tell you that after the training session, because we still have one more.
on how William Saliba is doing:
It’s pretty similar, he’s not going to be involved tomorrow and we will have to wait until the next game to see where we are. He hasn’t improved this week at all.
on whether having a few extra days between games has helped the players:
I think so, obviously it took us a while to go over what happened at the Etihad. We don’t want to accept that, but you have to recognise that on the day they took the game to a different level, and we didn’t reach that level. They were better than us and deserved to win the game.
on how he sees the title race now:
Win tomorrow - that’s what we have to do. Within the disappointment and the spirit around [the club], we need to do two things - recognise what a lot of people around the club have done to get us back into the Champions League, which was already a difficult thing to achieve. Not a lot of people were very optimistic that we had the ability to do that at the start of the season, and we need to start recognising the good work that a lot of people have done to achieve that. The second thing - which I like the most - is that even achieving that with six games to go - something that hasn’t happened in more than a decade at this club - that we are still not satisfied, still upset and we want more. We want the club to be consistently with the best, that’s the mentality we need and that’s what I’ve loved most over the last few days.
on his pride in the players:
We have achieved what was difficult to achieve and we can still achieve the Premier League because there are five games to go and there are a lot of things that are still going to happen. What we have to do is forget about what happened last week, learn from it and move on to the next game at home with our people for a London derby and put things right.
on being top for 247 days:
Tomorrow I want to make that 248. Win tomorrow and be at the top.
on whether it’s unfair that people aren’t talking about how good Manchester City have been:
I don’t think it’s unfair, it’s football. We are Arsenal Football Club and we have to be here to win every single trophy - these are the demands. What happened in the last 50 years, that’s not the reality but the demands have to be there. The things that I like the most are: ‘great, we are in the Champions League’ and everybody isn’t satisfied with the situation and this is what we need if we want to move forward as a club, and as a team.
on whether we need to get on another run of wins:
Yes, at the end it’s find a way to win, but our way to win has been consistent throughout the whole season: playing well, being better than the opponent and being dominant. We have to do that tomorrow night to beat Chelsea.
on Arsenal Women selling out the Emirates:
It shows the unity and the way everything is evolving together and the importance of women’s football in this country, especially with what the England national team do well, we do as a club. They’ve been much better than the men’s football team in many moments with all the trophies that they’ve won, that’s the reality so I’m incredibly proud of all of them to do that. They fully deserved the credit that they are getting and to play tonight in front of 60,000 people is something amazing.
on trying to lift the players:
It is difficult but in sport you have to accept the reality, and when a team is able to take the game to a different level and you’re not able to step up to that, you have to recognise that there is still work to do, not get confused, be very humble and recognise what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are to be better. The reality is as well that for 247 days we have been with them, and tomorrow can be another where we are still there. There are five games to go so there are a lot of things that we have done well for 10 months.
on the current mood in camp:
It is not about the mood, it is about keeping that fire in the belly for tomorrow.
on what he expects from Chelsea:
That they are going to try to come to the Emirates to beat us. They have a great manager and exceptional players, so it is very difficult to predict what they will do because they can play in various ways with different players and different qualities as well. We are going to prepare for the game to win it, that’s it.
on whether the pressure has switched to Manchester City:
Now it is not in our hands, but what is in our hands is to win our games. That’s what we are going to try to do and the rest is down to City.
on whether he is settling for second place:
on what gives him hope that City will slip up:
How tough it is to win every single game. It’s not something I saw last week, it’s what I have seen for nine months, otherwise they would have won every Premier League game and they haven’t.
on how key Saliba’s injury has been:
I don’t know, he is a very important player but I don’t know how to quantify it. I don’t know how to quantify Gabriel Jesus being out for four months, Eddie Nketiah for three months, Emile Smith Rowe for four and a half months, Kieran Tierney for a few weeks, Tomiyasu for three and a half months, maybe now six months. This is football.
on not taking Chelsea’s recent form for granted:
It is going to be a very different game. It is a London derby and they have something to prove, and we have something to prove. The atmosphere is going to be incredible to play in that stadium and we are going to have to be at our best again.
on if there was one thing he would do differently against Manchester City:
on how the players were in the first training session after the City game:
They didn’t need much, they knew. The disappointment was across the club - our supporters, our people, our staff, our players. It was a big night and we didn’t produce the performance that we wanted. We deserved to lose the game and we have to move on, but I think it was a good reality check as well in the way that they stepped up the level and we could not reach that level. The reality check is as well that you have to step up to that level for 10 months, so we have to believe in what we do because we are so good as well.
on his pride on the season, even if we don’t go on to win the league:
Yes, I am incredibly proud and thankful for everybody that has contributed to bringing the Champions League back to this football club with five or six games to go, something that hasn’t happened in over a decade in this club. So congratulations and thank you so much to everyone that has contributed to that, and thank you for still being upset and not accepting that the Champions League is enough and we want more, because this squad is going to demand to get what we want.
on our summer plans:
We are going to look at what we can do, and what is the best strategy for us to move forward, to improve and reach the level that we want to reach. It is going to be another competitive summer and window because there are going to be eight or 10 clubs with huge capacities to improve, and we know that.
on trying to regain our composure in games:
Composure is a lot of the time related to moments, and moments can change whether you use composure or you lose it and you cannot cope with the pressure. We have had very important moments where we have nailed that moment and it has given us three points, and other moments like at West Ham at 3-1 the game is over or when you are at Anfield or when you are at home and you concede the goals that we have conceded, but this is football. The key moments are what define at the end whether you win or not, and in the last week we have missed that piece.
on whether that is down to individuals or a collective:
A bit of both I think.
on what he thinks has gone wrong at Chelsea this season:
I don’t know, that’s for them to analyse, not for me.
on whether they prove that spending money isn’t the only thing needed to create a successful team:
I think in our model we have very important things, the first is to have the right people and I think we have the right people. Then it is to have the right players that can compete, challenge and understand their role within the team, and you need quality in front of goal great and physicality - you need a lot of things in this game to do that. It is extremely difficult to find that thin balance with the players because in recruiting you can have the best intentions but then the player has to come here, fit in and get that chemistry with the manager, teammates, staff and the country. It is not easy at all, so credit to everybody that makes those decisions.
on whether Chelsea will be more dangerous with nothing to play for:
I don’t know what their approach will be. They are really dangerous because when you look at the individuals that they can put on that field, for sure they have huge threats so we need to be aware of that.
on whether they prove that spending doesn’t equate to success:
Next season they may get 100 points - we don’t know. With all that exceptional talent, if they make that work they can do anything because they have the players, the infrastructure and the history to do it. I cannot assess what is right and what is wrong because you cannot assess in two months when they’ve made those changes, it is not fair.
on whether this season has been a success in working towards the ultimate goal:
As a manager, I don’t want to be using those words. I know what we are trying to do, what the objective was and what we have been doing but we still have the nicest part of the season to play with five games to go. When I look at it, this is not over. I would pay a lot of money next season to be in this position again - a lot, believe me! I just want to maximise the moment that we have right now and go for it.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.