Press conference

Every word of Mikel's pre-Sheffield United presser

Mikel Arteta held his pre-Sheffield United press conference at London Colney on Friday afternoon.

He was asked about the latest team news, squad rotation, the visit of Sheffield United and more.

Here’s everything he had to say on the following subjects:

on the fitness of Thomas Partey:
He’s got a muscle injury and we are expecting him to be out for a few weeks. We don’t really know the extent of it and he has more tests today but he picked up that injury in a training session with the last kick of the ball before Sevilla, so very unfortunate.

on if it’s the same injury as before:
No, it’s something different.

on if playing for Ghana contributed to it:
I don’t think so. He was coming from a period of absence and he needed minutes. He played with the national team and we try to be always in touch with them. Then we had two games with Chelsea and Sevilla very very close and we decided not to load him in the first game to play him in Sevilla, and then that happened in training, so sometimes it’s difficult. You try to prevent, if he were to get injured against Chelsea or against City you would’ve said that we had rushed him, but then you rest him and he gets injured, so it’s things that happen in football.

on Gabriel Jesus’ fitness:
The scan shows that there is a muscle injury and we might lose him for a few weeks again.

on if it will be after the next international break:
With Gabby I cannot give you any time frame because he always surprises us, but there is something there. He felt in a really awkward action and it’s true that he had quite a lot of load in the last few weeks with the national team and then playing those games, which he hasn’t done in a long, long time. That’s really bad news for us.

on being able to rotate the squad:
We have three big players, now with Jurrien who has a long-term injury, with Thomas and him. One thing is to rotate the squad, the other thing is for the squad to have the level to pick the right players to rotate them in the right moment, because then you are rotating the squad for the first game, but after the squad needs to carry on playing with the injuries. It’s what we want to avoid but with the schedule that we have and the amount of games that we have, it’s something that we knew was going to happen. It’s happening to every club in the Premier League so there’s no difference.

on if Martin needs a rest:
To get to the level that they perform and our front players last season, that’s very difficult to see. It hasn’t happened in the Premier League, so we need to be conscious of that, but that’s about form, about putting him in better positions and doing things better in certain areas to help him to have the game that helps him to explore his qualities. They have played a lot of minutes and that’s a consequence of that.

on how good Declan has been:
He’s been terrific for us and I think he has performed at the highest level, especially in big games. That’s when you want to see your big players and he has to step out there and his contribution in these games has been really important, so I’m really pleased.

on where he wants to improve from the Chelsea game:
The way we started the first 15-20 minutes, especially the way we lost momentum by losing certain key duels that changed the shift and momentum of the game. Then for other periods, we continued to do a lot of the good things that we do, but all the time we need to be better, play better, be more dominant and be more efficient, especially in the final third.

on what he expects from Sheffield United:
Looking at the way they have played against all the top teams and how much they have suffered to beat them; some of them scored in the 100th minute, some others scoring late goals. They’ve been really tricky games so we expect the same. They are fighting for their lives, like we want to win every single game, and it will be a tricky game.

on what satisfies him the most so far this season:
Probably the consistency that we are showing, playing every three days in different competitions and maintaining a high level. But as well, showing that is not enough for us and we want more, we want to play better, we want to do things and give no chance to the opponent and keep developing as a team.

on if he feels there is more depth in the team this season:
There is depth, obviously it will depend on the injuries that we pick up and and where we have that depth because having injuries in certain lines is going to affect you in a way where you don't have the right replacement. So far we are coping with it and everybody feels really connected and everybody feels that they have a chance and that's a really positive thing to have in the squad.

on how we guard against complacency tomorrow:
Since yesterday, everybody has been on their toes. When they walk in that door, they know what is coming and what to expect. I was very clear with them.

on whether the amount of games is causing our injury problems:
No, I think there are periods and some days you get really unlucky, and things that are difficult to prevent. When you are loading players more and the players haven’t done it in the past, obviously the risk increases. We try to manage every single thing to control it, but there are things that are difficult to do that for, and you have to accept that.

on the current demands on players:
What we need is more players. There's no secret, the players have a certain amount of energy and the battery only lasts so long or we will burn them out. Will will need more players, and if that's the case we will have to adapt.

on player welfare when it comes to gambling:
Everybody that is working at the organisation are the service of the players, and try to help them with anything that they need in their lives. First of all, we have to look after their welfare. We have a huge responsibility to keep educating them, showing them the right values, communicating and guiding them and trying to give them advice if they want it. We always have to be close to support them.

on if that is almost as important as the football side of the club:
For sure, especially when players are coming from abroad. They don't have their families, they don't have relatives so they can feel very lonely. They can have a lot of time to think, a lot of time to make some good or bad decisions and we have to help them to make sure that they take the right path, and they can have a life that fulfils what they need within the age group that they are in.

on why Martin was taken off against Chelsea and Sevilla:
It can be in relation to the performance, the tactics or how the game is shifting. But I think somebody else is going to be more suited to get freshness in the team, because we have played a lot of games, and we want to give them that energy as well in the last few minutes, and that’s it.

on how he sets the bar so high for himself:
Because he’s an incredible player, he’s done and is doing so much for us. He’s our captain, you know, and we expect him all the time to step in, like we do with other players. This is great, because that’s the role he has. And we have developed him into that player and that person, and now it’s about maintaining and sustaining that level, and that’s the challenge.

on if the 25-man squad should be increased:
Well, we have more games, more competitiveness and physically the standards are higher. We’re going to play more minutes, we have to do that or instead of five subs, we can have 10. Now, the five subs are something normal, before it was a big fight to go from three to five. Now I cannot imagine a game in the conditions we have today after that last year and the World Cup, that we didn’t have the five subs. It would be so difficult, so we’d have to think. If the calendar extends, for sure we have to think about ways of not dropping the quality. And the only way to do it is players have to have certain availability and you need players to pick.

on if that’s a conversation going on among managers:
Around everybody! When this is going to stop and how long it’s going to take for us to make the right decisions, and the laws will change and probably our capacity to do other things during games will change as well. You would have to adapt for sure.

on if the squad is better equipped to cope with losing players to injury:
I think so – we are better equipped; we have more quality, and we have players that fit what we need and our way of playing.

on if it’s a chance for Eddie with Gabriel being out:
What you see where he’s coming from and what he’s done the last three or four years. At a club like Arsenal, to play as a nine, he’s made some huge strides, and it’s merit to him and his mentality.

on Tomiyasu’s 50th Premier League game if he plays on Saturday:
He was terrific in Seville, I think he played a really good game when he came on against Chelsea as well. He’s a player that everybody loves in there, he’s always the first and always the last. You tell him to do something, and he will give his life for it. He’s an exceptional professional player, and he gives us versatility and qualities that nobody else has in the squad, For me, he’s a very important player.

on how useful it is to have someone who can play many positions:
Well, we had six or seven players in the last line-up, that’s not enough. Then that means that you need to have versatile players to occupy different positions, and they need to be comfortable. That’s something that’s tricky because you start to train a player every single day in a different position, but then you demand him to play in a specific role, that’s challenging. Sometimes it's difficult, because they don’t have the relationship and the physical demands are difficult. Tomi adapts to it in a really natural way so it’s so good to have him.

on if the quality of the league will be damaged if squad sizes aren’t increased:
Well, there are a few risks. We’ll obviously try not to do that, but I think it depends as well on the kind of profiles that you have in the squad; how many minutes they can absorb, whether they are used to it, and there are injuries that we cannot control. I think we have to focus much more on the quality than the quantity. For me, that’s the starting point.

on if Kai will be considered for the number nine role:
Yes, we have different profiles. For Kai, the minutes that he’s played, he’s been really good. It’s good and it’s difficult for the opponent as well to figure out who will play, and I think that’s a positive for us.

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