Press conference

Every word of Mikel’s pre-Liverpool presser

Mikel Arteta held his final pre-Liverpool press conference at London Colney on Friday morning.

The boss was asked about our recent statement on the European Super League, the latest team news, the task of getting a win at Liverpool and more.

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

on our statement on the European Super League:
We are very clear. Exactly the same. We remain in the same position. We love playing in the Champions League and will continue to do so.

on if the players are against the European Super League:
That's a question for them. But obviously, football supporters and the passion they bring to the game is the main reason why this game belongs to them and to the players because they are the absolute protagonists and what makes this game so enjoyable. And we have to look after them and their opinion is very, very important. 

on latest team news:
Thomas Partey is still finalising his rehab. He still hasn't trained with the team yet. Mo Elneny will hopefully join us this afternoon to see how he feels about it. For the rest, no news. Jorginho is still a doubt. 

on Saturday night under the lights at Anfield:
It's going to be a special atmosphere. Obviously, the two teams are in a great moment, in a really good position. Really strong position. Both teams, I'm sure, have prepared the game to win it and to go for it and it's going to be an intense match. 

on the chance to be top of the table at Christmas:
It's always great to to be in the highest position in the league, especially in this league. We'll try to maintain that and to do that tomorrow, we're going to have to play really well, compete extraordinarily well and be very intelligent to manage the moments of the game as well.

on Jurgen Klopp’s rallying call to Liverpool fans:
That's a question for him. The way we're going to prepare the game is what we have to do to play better than them, to beat them and to focus on our supporters as well. And I'm sure that a lot of them are going to show up tomorrow there and they're going to be supporting the team, like always. 

on if he was surprised by his comments:
I don't know. I have enough to think about with the team and how we're going to prepare the game to win it.

on celebrating four years in the job this week and if he’d have taken where we are now:
I'm sure I would. But we still haven't won enough important things and we want to be better and we want to be more successful. There are a lot of things that we have achieved together in those four years but thanks to the people that have been on the journey with us together and the ones that were behind us as well.

on his favourite memories of playing at Anfield:
Winning there, as always. Last time when we beat them which was a while ago, that was a really good moment and something to replicate tomorrow.

on how recent results impact the atmosphere at Anfield:
No, every game is different. They have a really particular way of playing like Brighton had, like Villa had. And every game is prepared in a different way. The context is different, the atmosphere is something that it's important to understand as well. But we now have the experience of what we did last year that has worked for big parts of the game. And that's a lot of things that we have to replicate and some others that we have to do better to win tomorrow.

on if he prefers playing or managing at Anfield:
I don't know to be fair. I always say that there's nothing like playing but as well, there is something about managing when you feel that cohesion between the team, that chemistry between players and a team producing what was in your brain. I don't think it gets much better than that.

on ‘playing well for 28 minutes’ there last season:
28? Mamma Mia! I thought it was 27.

on how he will manage the squad’s state of mind after Granit Xhaka’s approach last season:
[We will need to manage] All the games, but Granit Xhaka did that in many games and we won, and then nobody talks about that. So, it’s a little bit sometimes too simplistic, there are certain things, obviously that we have to manage very well in big games, and the emotional state is something that is crucial when you’re playing against big opponents away [from home].

on what the players learned from the game last season:
There are certain things that we didn’t manage very well, the way we allowed them to run especially after a few things that we didn’t do well enough, [things] that we have to correct and be much better at, because when they get that momentum and the space, they are a really dangerous team. But as well, we had some big, big situations, even after those moments that we could have killed the game, and we didn’t. And when you have the opportunity to do that, you have to do that.

on how pleased he is with his team’s progress in the last four years:
It’s something to reflect on, but now we are in the competition, I think you leave the pressing in a really intense way, and you’re looking for ways to be better, and to improve, to evolve the club, the team, yourself individually as well as a manager, how you can be better for this group, what the team demands, but overall I’m really pleased with what is happening around the club, with the people that we work with and how people feel, and how especially our people feel with how we’re doing.

on if the European Super League has a future:
I don’t know. Everybody would have their own opinion, and commitment now, in a year’s time, in three years’ time. Who knows how it’s going to end up.

on if it is better to play this fixture now than later in the season:
It’s something that we cannot pick. It’s around the Christmas period, it’s under the floodlights, it’s going to be a special night, and it’s always great to go to Anfield, so we’re looking forward to it.

on if he has to talk to players about keeping their heads in these games:
They know, they have experienced that for many years now, for this group of players now, it’s the third or fourth time that they’ve been there, a few years ago it was the first time for most of them, and maybe you have to clarify and explain certain things, and I don’t think that’s necessary now.

on if we will have a more attacking plan compared to Manchester United at Anfield:
Well, we will have the game plan to beat them and to leave Anfield with three points. That’s the way we’re going to prepare the game, for sure.

on if we knew last season’s game at Anfield would impact the title race:
No, it was that run of games after when we had a few draws in a row as well. That was part of it, we had moments that we could have killed the game to come away with the three points, and we didn’t. Then in certain moments in the second half, we suffered in many moments to maintain that draw.

on if he would consider his four years so far as a success:
I’m really happy where we are and how we’ve achieved things, from how we’ve behaved through difficult moments to good moments and the involvement from everybody at the football club, and how they feel that they have participated, building what we are doing. It’s a joy to be here with these people, and we need to be better, because we’re not satisfied for sure.

on if he has spoken to the board about the European Super League:
Well, the conversations that we had were very clear as to the experience that we had as you said two years ago. I think the club has issued a statement that is very clear and transparent, and we’ll stick to that.

on if anything can compete with English football:
I don’t know, I think we are so privileged to have the league that we have, to have the competition that we have, to have the uncertainty that we have every single game. That’s what drives this league and a lot of football supporters to watch it every time because it’s beautiful.

on if there is a change in his management that has impacted our discipline:
It’s true, this is a period, you try to coach the team in the best possible way to be efficient. We don’t want to foul, we want to win the ball as high as possible, nullify the opponent’s strengths as much as we possibly can and we want to be dominant, that’s for sure. There are certain things that the quality of players allows you to do certain things better than with others and as well I think this period is very important as well and understanding what you have to do in each area of the pitch, in each moment of the game, and that’s something that in my opinion we can improve.

on how much the relationship of Gabriel and Saliba has improved:
I think they clicked straight away. That’s something that I was really hopeful for because when you talk about partnerships, chemistry is key. There is an understanding, they compliment each other in a great way, everybody has a role and it’s very clear and well accepted. They are getting better and better, still super young for the position that they play in and they can still get better.

on the chance to get his first win at Anfield as a manager:
We have done it at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and many other places that for many other years we hadn’t and that’s the next challenge. Go there and win. If you want to be at the top, you’re going to have to go to those places and be dominant and win games. That’s what we’re going to try to do.

on if silencing the crowd is key to getting a result:
I think you have to play better than them and you will silence the crowd if you are dominant and better than them. In any other ground, it’s no different I think.

on if the players have to accept that there will be periods where they can’t control the game:
You’re going to have to suffer in every game. How you go through those moments together, how do you do it? How do you overcome that moment? That’s a big thing and last year we went through those moments, especially in the second half and we had some difficulties to get over them. They extended for a period that was too long and you have to be able to turn those periods around and come back to the state of the game that you want.

on what it takes to turn those moments around:
You try to teach them certain things that you can do, but especially have the ball as far as possible from the goal and be dominant in the areas that you want to be dominant and that’s it. Sometimes it’s credit to the opponent that they manage to do that to you and you are struggling together in that position.

on if he would be sad to see Barcelona play in the European Super League:
That’s not for me to judge. Everybody has got the right reasons and I’m sure a lot of thought why they defend their position, the club’s position in the best possible. I can talk about what is best for Arsenal and the decision that we have made as a club.

on what’s most important to look after in football:
I don’t know, whatever the decision is of any club and everybody in football and what we are involved in is two things - one is the soul of this game which is our supporters because they are what make this game possible - and the players. Look after those two in the best possible way. I think that’s our responsibility and every decision has to be focused on those two aspects especially, and then to have a game that promotes integrity and the beauty of the game and try to find that.

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