Before we head to Crystal Palace for our first away day of the campaign, Mikel Arteta held his pre-match press conference at London Colney on Thursday morning.
After a busy few days that have seen us start the Premier League season with a win, marred by a serious injury to Jurrien Timber, and the capture of David Raya from Brentford, the boss discussed those topics and more ahead of our trip to Selhurst Park.
Here is everything he had to say:
on Jurrien Timber’s injury:
It’s a huge blow, especially for him having just joined the club to have the injury that he has is a huge disappointment for him. Obviously for the team it’s a big blow because we recruited him with clear intentions and what he was bringing to the team was evident and he’s not going to be in this season for us. We have to adapt, these things happen unfortunately, and we have to move on.
on Jurrien’s reaction to his injury:
He’s been very good, to be honest, he’s a special character, he knows, and I think he’s started to realise the extent of the injury and the amount of time that he’s going to be out, but he’s in a good place. We are all willing to him help and we are all very close to him, but it’s going to be a long journey.
on whether it changes his attitude in the transfer market:
I am more thinking about the resources that we have within the team to keep doing what we want to do. It’s true that he was giving us very different things in terms of what we could do on both sides, but again, these things happen, and we have to be prepared for that.
on whether it’s an opportunity for Kieran Tierney:
It’s an opportunity for everybody. We’re going to need everybody, and everybody is going to be important. The numbers that we have in the squad, especially in those positions are more limited now, so everybody has to be ready.
on whether Tierney is still part of his plans:
Well, he played the [Community Shield], no? So, a player that played five days before in the final is part of the plans, for sure.
on whether Kieran was disappointed not to be involved against Forest:
I hope so, yes.
on what David Raya brings to the squad:
Better qualities for our game model, it’s very simple. We want two players per position that can do that, and you saw what happened to Jurrien, it can happen to our goalkeeper, it happened to [Thibaut] Courtois. You need to be prepared because the question will be ‘what is it, two goalkeepers of this size?’ And if Aaron was to sustain a cruciate injury, then what do you say? You then change everything. So, we have to be prepared, we have to be proactive, and we have two excellent goalkeepers now that fit exactly what we want in our model, so I’m very happy with that.
on whether there is a ‘No. 1’:
In any position? No. Nine, seven, 11, six, goalkeeper - no, there isn’t.
on Oleksandr Zinchenko’s fitness:
Alex is doing very well, he’s been training with us and hopefully we’re going to have him available very, very soon.
on other team news:
No [new concerns], not after the game. Gabriel Jesus is still not available and not fit, but the rest are all good.
on Kai Havertz’s start to his Arsenal career:
He’s fitted in really well. I think he played a really good game against Man City, he had two big, big chances to score, and he didn’t, but everything he did apart from that he was excellent. The other day as well he played in two different positions throughout the game, one more as a number eight, one more as a number 10. I’m really happy with what he’s bringing to the team, his intensity, his mobility, his threat, his understanding of the game and spaces and the way he’s fitted in around the boys as well, so I’m really, really happy with him.
on if he is satisfied his defence is strong enough despite Jurrien’s injury:
We didn’t plan for this injury so we have to assess now what the options are and the best way to get the best out of the players. I cannot control anything that is not here. We are always open and we have to always be open to react if something happens, not only with an injury but with the market as well and that's what we are doing.
on the positives from the Forest win:
The dominance of the game, the amount of times that we played in the territory that we want to play in, the amount of chances that we created and the few things that we conceded. We conceded [a chance] in the first half that was directly after a second ball they hooked and they are through. Then they countered after a set play, with both coming from a goal kick and the one coming from a corner, but after that nothing else. When you dominate the game as much as we did the other day and the situations that you have, the final pass is still not neat enough or good enough to finish the actions better. That's what we have to improve.
on being more clinical:
We have to be. When you play games of that type, it has to finish three, four, five. We didn't do it and that's why in the Premier League if you give something to the opponent, it's always going to be a nervy ending unfortunately.
on Bukayo Saka’s development:
I think it keeps growing year by year, and you set him new targets and he sets himself new targets and new demands and he seems to complete those. He’s extremely hungry and willing to learn and improve and become the player that decides the game every three days, and that's what he has between his two eyes. He’s a very focused boy and he does everything to do that - the way he trains, the way he prepares himself, the way he lives his life. I’m very happy so he needs to keep doing what he's doing.
on the goalkeeping situation:
When we had different goalkeepers there were questions as well. To have two excellent goalkeepers is great - there's nothing wrong with it. We have two great left-wingers and two great strikers and two great holding midfielders. We have Jorginho, Thomas and Declan and that is not a problem, and it should not be a problem. We want to be better every single day and to be better the environment has to change and be better. We tend to always be at a certain level because it's in our nature - when you change the environment and the environment is to be 100 per cent every day, believe me, the level is going to increase. I've seen that with my close eyes with the players that we have now than what we had two years ago. If we want to be better, we have to create that environment .
on if he believes our strikers can score 20 goals a season:
We haven’t had that player but we have managed to be extremely competitive without that player. It means the goals have to be shared around more but nobody can sign a piece of paper that says this season a player will score 20, 25 or 30 goals. We don’t know, and if somebody knows, please raise your hand! Martin Odegaard scored 15 goals and before he used to score three or four. What we are doing is working in the best possible way to encourage those players to understand there is no limit and they can be as good as they probably can be, and I’m sure that we have players that can score 20 goals in a season.
on which team he will support in the Women’s World Cup final:
I support the World Cup in general and obviously those two teams are related to me. But it’s just phenomenal. It’s phenomenal for England and what they’ve done in two consecutive tournaments, it’s just remarkable, what they are doing. In Spain we are really happy as well because we’ve had so many issues in the last year or so with that squad and a lot of things that happened there. It’s a great way to show the spirit and the character of the Spanish people to say ‘OK, against adversity we are here in a World Cup final.’ So I’m ready to enjoy it. I want to enjoy the game, that’s it.
on whether he has been given assurances that he can bring in new players:
It’s never my own decision. It’s a decision we make as a club with a lot of people involved. There are a lot of elements to that, but my focus is on just getting the best out of the squad that we have right now. We are in the middle of the competition, we are open in the transfer market both ways, because we still have things to do, both ways maybe. But that’s my aim.
on whether he can rule out any defenders leaving:
There are not any plans on doing anything like that.
on whether the recent injuries to the likes of Timber, De Bruyne and Mings are a result of the increased schedules:
There was also Buendia, it happened to Courtois and Militao as well. There is something there. You can say there have been games in the past and there have been tours as well, but the games, plus the tours, plus the World Cup in December, plus this, plus this, plus internationals – it’s a lot. It’s too much for the players. It’s incredibly demanding; when you see the next 36 months of the calendar for those players, it’s just better not to look at it, because it’s incredible what they are going to have to be doing.
We need to look after them, but as a club, when do you look after them? To prioritise other competitions, and then we are the ones who look after them. So we really need to be sitting down, but it’s already too late, at least for the next 36 months. I don’t know who needs to raise a voice here, but there are worries – big worries on that.
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