Press conference

Every word from Mikel's pre-Newcastle presser

Ahead of our game against Newcastle United on Sunday, the media gathered at London Colney to hear from Mikel Arteta in his pre-match press conference.

The boss discussed numerous topics around the game, including injury updates on Gabriel and William Saliba, his impressions on the Magpies this season and how he feels the title race is shaping up.

Here is everything he had to say:

on Gabriel’s fitness:
We’ll have to see tomorrow how he is, but he could not finish the game [against Chelsea] so that was obviously a big sign for us and we’ll have to see how he is tomorrow.

on whether there has been any progress on William Saliba’s injury:
Not a lot of progress, he’s feeling better every single day but he’s still not been able to have any activity around the first-team, so we don’t expect him to be with us.

on whether he is out for the season:
We are not yet there today, because we are always hopeful and players are always pushing to play but if that is the case then we will announce that. Hopefully that will not be the case.

on what needs to be done to solve Saliba’s back issue:
It’s about the healing process. Pain-wise and with things that he can do now off the pitch, I think he is in a good place, but we have to build his capacity again to have the right impact, the right load and be in good condition to train and play for the team.

on if there are any other injury doubts:
No, hopefully not!

on how important the Chelsea win was:
We showed a great response in the week, but the most important thing was to put it out on the pitch and we did it. Right from the beginning we showed real determination and desire to win the game and put in a big performance. It was a big game for us, it was a London derby, and we earned the right to win the game.

on needing to find a ruthless streak:
We need to find moments that are crucial in games to kill them, and find better ways to finalise games. We’ve had a few, especially with the games that we have drawn.

on whether the injuries have been because the season has been extended:
The ones that we’ve had, probably with the exception of Saliba which was a really nasty impact, have been more traumatic than anything else. We wouldn’t put that down to the World Cup or the amount of stress or games that they have to play - I wouldn’t say it’s that.

on how much our players need to forget about last season’s game at Newcastle:
It is a very different game. It was a year ago with different players, a different game but we’ll have to play much better than we did last year, that’s for sure. We know that it is going to be a really tough game because especially at home they’ve been really good.

on whether the reverse fixture was one of our toughest this season:
We’ve had a few, but that was a game that we deserved to win. We didn’t at the end but they are a really good side who are well coached and have really good players and the right environment around the club right now, so they are in a good place.

on Sam Allardyce’s return and having role models in coaching:
I have learnt from a lot of coaches, certainly, I have learnt things from Sam because I played against him when I was a player. He has a really unique and a very effective way of playing and getting results with his teams. Especially for foreign coaches and young coaches, you come into a league and have coaches that have kept the essence of English football in many ways, and I think Sam has played a big part in that.

on how different his team is from the one that drew with Newcastle in January:
We will try to play the game that we want and they will want to play a very different game, that’s for sure. That was the battle when we played them at Emirates Stadium, I think we deserved to win the game. There are things that are obviously going to be different from the last game and we’re going to have to be better to earn the right to win it.

on whether the team is better at dealing with Newcastle’s approach now:
We’ll have to show that on the pitch.

on coping with our recent defensive changes:
We can’t control certain things, we have to accept that and that’s why we have other players who can fulfil those roles. We try to help them and support them as much as possible, don’t look for too many excuses and just find the right solutions to win matches.

on having to wait and hope for Manchester City to slip up:
We have enough to deal with just looking after what we have to do and playing well to win the games.

on whether Sunday’s game is an opportunity to make a statement:
We don’t have to make a statement to anybody. We have to play our best game, and play as well as we possibly can to earn the right to win the game.

on whether he expects Newcastle to come flying out of the blocks:
I don’t know what they have prepared.
on whether the traditional Big Six will now become a Big Seven including Newcastle:
They already are third in the league right now, and they merit that position with the way they have performed and the amount of changes they have made. They have made some very intelligent decisions as well, so they deserve to be where they are.
on Martin Odegaard’s goals coming from late runs into the box:
That’s something our attacking midfielders have to have the ability to do, and that’s why we play in a certain way to exploit those spaces. Martin has the capacity to do that, he’s finding himself in those positions and then he is being very effective in the final action. It’s something very important for us.
on whether that is something that has been worked on in training:
It’s about what we want in that position, and what we think he is capable of doing. All the time we have to adapt to the quality of our players, but as well trying to inspire them to go a bit further. That’s what they’ve been doing, and explore all the things that can be incredibly important for the team to help us to win more games. He’s always been open and working hard to achieve that all the time.
on whether Manchester City will feel the pressure:
I don’t know what’s going to happen. They have won a lot of games in the last few months, and if they continue to do so they will deserve to win the league. If they don’t then we have to be ready, winning our games, to be there.
on whether there were examples of them feeling pressure when he was at City:
It’s more down to the players. We don’t know what they are thinking right now, or what their focus is. They will try to win every game, we will try to do the same, and then we’ll see what happens.
on whether he can use last season’s defeat to Newcastle as extra motivation:
I don’t think so. There is not a lot to motivate from there, there are a lot of things we have to do much better than we did on the day. It’s a different group of players as well and where we are today is very different to that group.

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