Press conference

Every word from Mikel's pre-Southampton presser

With Southampton heading to north London tomorrow evening, Mikel Arteta attended his pre-match press conference at the training ground this morning to discuss everything surrounding the game.

He was thrown plenty of questions by the journalists in attendance, who wanted to know the latest situation regarding injuries, Bukayo Saka’s mindset and how he now views the title race, as well as what we can expect from the Saints.

Here is everything he had to say:

on team news:

There’s no big news, the picture hasn’t changed from last week. Regarding William, we still have to wait a little bit more. He’s not progressing as quickly as we hoped and it is a bit delicate so we want to be certain that when we push him, he’s ready to absorb the load and the risk that we’ll take, and that’s not possible at the moment.

on whether Saliba will play again this season:

I don’t know, it’s a bit early to know. Probably next week we’ll have more certainty. There is some evolution, he’s doing more activity but is not there yet to start to throw him into the pitch at the level the sessions demand to compete in this league.

on Zinchenko’s fitness:

We’ll see about that one as well, it’s not certain. It’s a muscular injury and it needs some time to heal and we’re not there yet.

on Saka’s response to missing a penalty:

That’s the way he is. He loves the responsibility but as well he puts a lot on his shoulders. If he had any doubt about how much people loved or respected him or admired him at the club, he had a very overwhelming reaction from everybody in the building and at the club. I think at the end of this, it can be something very positive that can give him a big lift because everyone reacted in an unbelievable way towards him because he deserves it because of the way he is.

on whether he will continue to take penalties:

Yes. If he is on the pitch we will throw him the ball and make sure he takes the next one.

on what he has said to people who have written Arsenal off this season:

Nothing - I cannot communicate it enough here properly but what I can say is that our players have full belief in what we do and what we know is that what is at stake is incredibly beautiful and we want to fight for it. The best way to do it every single day is what we continue to do, and tomorrow play really well, play with our crowd every single ball and create an incredible atmosphere and win the game.

on how confident he is that the team can re-find confidence this week after a wobble:

I’m very confident. Twists and turns are part of anything you do, especially in football. Whatever the aim or the target is, it is not going to go in a linear progression. You have to know that and prepare for that and the way the team reacted this week is incredibly positive and we want to see that tomorrow night.

on what he learnt from the draw at Southampton:

Hopefully that we are in a better place, but it is true that that game had very critical moments where we could have closed the game and we didn’t. In the second half and especially in the first 25 minutes it was pretty disappointing, but credit to the opposition as well - when you’re unable to do what you want to do for long periods, it means the opposition are doing something right. After analysing Southampton in a lot of detail, they have impressed me quite a lot. If you watched the last game that they played, how they lost by the margin they lost, that margin wasn’t there. What Ruben and the coaches are doing is really good, and the rewards maybe haven’t been there in terms of the results in some games but they are a really good team.

on what he knows about Ruben Selles:

I know people that have worked with him in Valencia when I was there and I obviously followed his career. I know the type of coach he is and the way he thinks. I think he’s done really well with the team and we’ll meet tomorrow.

on how his players are feeling physically:

My players today are really looking forward to tomorrow, to get the game that we want and the result that we want, and play in front of our crowd again. There are seven games left and we have four games to play at the Emirates which is for them a big thing, and we’re looking forward to it.

on what kind of atmosphere he is expecting on Friday night:

Friday night, it has to be electric. I want that crowd playing every single ball with our team and be no different to what we have experienced - at full capacity energy-wise and everyone very positive pushing the team.


on whether the team can show what they have learnt from the last two games:

Every game is an opportunity to improve as a team and every game has different gifts. Those gifts are what you take, what you learn and how you improve as a team. We have another gift tomorrow and we have to take it the way we want to.


on whether it will be similar to facing West Ham:

Yes because the necessity of those teams is one thing, but the quality of those teams is something as well that you have to understand. There is no team in this league that is easy to beat. They all have their strengths, and when you give them hope and belief and they play with their strengths, any team can beat you in the league and you have to be very conscious of that.


on how he takes away Southampton’s belief:

With more determination and more passion. What we are playing for is something incredible. The club hasn’t fought for this position for a long, long time. It’s in our hands and we want to do it.


on how he can coach some nastiness into the players:

Maybe we got too comfortable at some stage in the [West Ham] game. It’s different. They know, I don’t have to coach them because they said it straight away. They know, it’s in their system, it’s in the gut and tomorrow we have to show it. Sometimes we need to say it, now we have to show it and when it comes to a similar position, react in a different way and be much more ruthless.


on how difficult it is to remain focused on this game:

That’s it, that’s the conversation we had. Nobody is talking about what is going to happen next Wednesday. We have to become really boring to everybody and be very repetitive, and just focus on what we have to do this morning, and that’s it.


on taking each game as it comes:

Each ball. Now it’s each ball.


on what he learnt from the end of last season:

In fairness the way that season unfolded was very different as well It’s very difficult to compare. Every game brings challenges and opportunities and at the end it’s how you cope on the day. How you prepare is fine, but at the end you have to be able to do it in the moment.


on whether this season has been a success whatever happens:

We are Arsenal Football Club, the success is judged on the last game of the season.


on Holding and Tierney’s contribution:

Their contribution is huge. First of all the way they behave around the team, how patient they have been, and when they have to play what they have produced in terms of performances. Now, they are playing more games, they are playing more minutes and will continue to do so. This is why you need top-quality players with the right mentality to be ready when you need them - on the pitch, and when you are not using them that much on the pitch, to contribute to the team in the right way. Those two are great examples of that.


on their attitude:

They are both great characters, they are really liked among the players. They bring that special energy to the team and I’m really happy to have them.


on whether Saka can brush off disappointment easier after the Euro final penalty miss:

Experiences help obviously, and what he went through in a way was tough, but in a different way it was beautiful and a great experience for him. I think that helped him - not only him, but the people around him, to understand what the reaction has to be and the support and protection that he needs. We go again.

on whether there is concern at the pressure of a title race:

I wouldn’t like to compare [with Man City], we have to focus on what we have, and the reason why we have dropped those points. I think they were two different games in my opinion, and the game would have changed like that if we score the penalty, it’s a different game. The margins are so, so small in this league and they have to go your way to get the results that you want, or sometimes the results that you deserve.

on Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ future:

He was a really important part, and he’s a player with incredible versatility that has played in many different positions. For different reasons, some professional, some personal reasons he had to move around in the end. At the end of the season, we’ll sit down and decide what is the best thing for everybody moving forward.

on whether we have been disrespected by the media lately:

These are opinions in the end and we have to respect that. When you set standards and expectations it’s really hard, you have to maintain them and to win every single game in the Premier League is extremely difficult. It’s not like you’ve lost five games in the last six and you are in this situation, you draw two matches and you play two very difficult fixtures away from home. But when you are there you are expected to win, to win, to win, to win because of the necessity to get the Premier League in this championship, you have to win almost every single game. That’s the demand and you have to accept that.

on whether Gabriel Jesus is ready to play 90 minutes:

We’ll see. We’ve been really careful. There have been some issues within that period when he was doing the final stages of the rehab and we have to be really attentive. We have players that can change the game, that are fully fit, that deserve to play as well and we have to be mindful of that.

on Thierry Henry’s comments that we’re too emotional:

I don’t know, it’s just an opinion. 

on whether he wants us to be more ruthless:

You have to be when you have a big situation to score a goal, you have to put the ball in the net because the margins are so small. You have to defend much better than we did, especially the second goal and how the first one was produced, but these are one of the situations that can happen in football.

on whether playing before Man City for the first time in six weeks is an advantage:

I don’t know, in the last six weeks, a lot of things have happened. We play when the fixtures come and we don’t know when the others are playing, we just have to focus on doing what we have to do and win our games.

on whether there are issues with the scheduling:

There is something there, but our game with Chelsea has been moved and that is to affect our weekend right now and things will turn around, so it is what it is. We can not control all of the things because it’s down to TV and sometimes the police to understand what we can do.

on whether there’s frustration the Chelsea game was moved:

No, there’s no frustration. You have to understand the situation, we are not the only team as well, and you have to be fair.

on Emile Smith Rowe’s progression:

He’s pushing, and in football what you did a year ago, a month ago is not important, it’s about what you do now, what you do yesterday and what you do tomorrow. The player has to have that mindset and the contribution has to be now to the team has to make us better and to make us win games. He’s very close.

See Full List

Fixtures & Results

Friendly Match
Ticket Info