Press conference

Every word from Mikel's pre-Everton presser

Wednesday sees us return to Emirates Stadium to face Everton in the Premier League, and ahead of the game Mikel Arteta held his pre-match press conference.

The boss discussed what he had in store for the Toffees, our return to form and team selection, as well as tackling a host of other topics.

Here is everything he had to say:

on if Thomas Partey is fit to start:

He hasn’t trained much. He had a session and he will train today. It is what it is. He was out for a few weeks and he needs to get back into the rhythm.

on what happened between William Saliba and Gabriel at the end of the Leicester win:

They are a happy marriage - they love playing with each other! But they are really demanding of each other, which is good. Everything is fine.

on if he has any comments on the use of VAR at Leicester:

No.

on if the Everton game is a case of revenge:

It’s a case of doing things better than we did when we played them a few weeks ago and earning the right to win the game. Hopefully tomorrow we will play much better than we did that day. 

on whether he has shown the players the video of the game at Goodison again:

It’s like with any opponent. We showed them what they do, what they are about, what we expect to do to try to beat them and nothing different.

on winning just once in six games against Sean Dyche:

We have to improve. 

on a win giving us 60 points after 25 matches:

If we do it, yes, but that means nothing because we still have another 14 games to play. There’s still a long run.

on if it’s becoming more difficult to know what his best XI is:

We assess that situation every single day. The fact [is] we have options now - we have players coming back from injury giving us alternatives, which is going to be crucial. Players can’t maintain the same level for 10 months - it’s just impossible. We need to change and we have to generate alternatives and be more unpredictable for opponents sometimes as well. We have those options now. 

on the preparation for facing Everton:

Obviously with Sean it’s quite clear what he’s done and where the success they’ve had is coming from. Tomorrow we’ll prepare the game in an appropriate and similar way [to the away match]. But with every manager, it’s the same. We have to look at certain matches, what they do and try to get the right tactics to beat them - and as well the same mentality and expectation of what we demand in the game.

on whether he misses the post-match tradition of having a drink with the opposition manager:

I haven’t had that opportunity because after I joined, two or three months later we had Covid. Covid was probably a catalyst for losing that tradition, which is a shame because it was something special and generates a certain bond with managers. Maybe we can talk about it between us and get it back.

on how he got the team back on form:

We talked about the boxes and we’ve been much more efficient in both boxes. We cut out individual errors that cost us certain points in that period. The opponents play and sometimes the opponents deserve to get something out of the game. But certainly, I think our level and the way we have played hasn’t dropped.

on how opponents view Arsenal:

I don’t know - we can’t control how the opponents are feeling or how they prepare for the games. What we have to do is tomorrow in front of our crowd go full tilt, go to win the game, play well and compete really well against this team.

on the importance of the Emirates crowd:

That’s going to be crucial. Tomorrow we expect to have the same support because with that, we’re going to be closer to winning the game for sure.

on separating work from family life to help alleviate pressure:

You can have difficulties and challenges in your job, which we do especially when you lose, but when you are winning as well because this job is so demanding, but you cannot destroy your life because of that. Your family, your friends, your loved ones and the people around you don’t deserve to have their lives affected in a negative way because you didn’t win a football match, so that balance in my case was critical, but you need some help. If someone paints that picture in front of you because sometimes when you are in that position, it is not easy to see.

on sympathising with Chelsea boss Graham Potter:

Absolutely, we are colleagues and we all know the pressure and the demands and the uncertainty that this industry has. At the end of the day, the ball has to go into that net, and there are many factors that can prevent that that are out of your control, so I fully empathise because you suffer and you know how it is when you are going through those moments.

on if he ever received the level of abuse Potter has:

I prefer not to talk about that.

on whether he likes our players challenging each other:

I don’t want robots, I want players with feeling, with passion, that they demand [more] from each other and that they have a chemistry, and those two [Gabriel and Saliba] certainly have that chemistry on and off the field. I love that even when winning, they want each other to do better.

 

on whether he has spoken to Bukayo Saka about not getting decisions:

We talk about every situation in the game and every moment that has an impact on the team or individually for him, and he needs to cope with it.

 

on whether he tells him to come in from the wide positions:

There are many solutions.

 

on Jakub Kiwior and Emile Smith Rowe playing for the under-21s last night:

They were really good, obviously they needed some minutes and at the moment they haven’t had much exposure, for different situations. It was great to see them on the field because we are going to need them in the next couple of games.

 

on possibly losing players that aren’t getting many minutes in the summer:

I don’t know, I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about what’s best for the team and the players who earn the right to play minutes, that they all deserve. We’re going to try and do that in the next couple of games.

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