Press conference

Every word from Mikel's pre-Tottenham presser

With the clock ticking down to this Saturday's north London derby, Mikel Arteta attended his pre-match press conference in London Colney to tackle questions from the gathered media.

The boss gave updates on injuries, the decision to send Emile Smith Rowe for surgery, his impressions on our opponents and the difference between now and April when we last faced our local rivals.

Hear is everything he had to say:

on the team news:

We’ve just finished the last training session. Obviously we had many players arriving yesterday, so we had a short period to prepare for the match, but the boys are looking in good condition.

on the confidence in the squad:

The mentality doesn’t change. We have to go game by game, we need to look to get better and improve in many areas and be humble, but at the same time really ambitious. That’s the way forward for us to achieve what we want.

on how impressed he’s been with Tottenham’s start:

Not only the start, but the journey they have been on since Antonio joined and how things have changed and the team that he’s building. They have a very clear identity in the way they are playing and it’s been really impressive. We know that both teams expect a really tough match tomorrow.

on whether last season’s away game acts as extra motivation:

I just think it’s all about emotion and willingness to get to that moment and have enjoyment. It’s the nicest game of the season by a mile, for what it means to our supporters, for the history of it. And now as well, because looking at the table and where both teams want to be, it becomes a really important match. I think the word is excitement.

on whether he has told the new players about what to expect:

They know what to expect!

on whether Zinchenko, Partey and Tierney are in the squad:

They are part of the team.

on Tierney being pulled out of internationals:

I think what we all want is the best for the player. We need to protect the welfare of the player for sure, and has he got the right mindset. Is the player ready physically to play for the country and the club? The best way to do it is to have clear communication and be honest and transparent, and with Scotland, that’s the case for sure.

on whether it’s a risk to play the players at the start of a busy period:

We have to go game by game and then form and performances, plus how the players are mentally and physically, will dictate how we use them, but for sure we are going to need everyone. The schedule is hectic and very demanding and we need to think carefully about how we use and load the players.

on what he said to Gabriel Jesus about missing out on selection for Brazil:

First of all we need to understand how they are feeling, how they have taken the news, how it’s hit them, and how we can use it to help them to their benefit. Just put your head down, take it on the chin, and the only thing they can do is try to play at the level he has been playing – or better – to make it more difficult for the national team.

on what makes this derby so special:

Many things. I think you have to feel attached and a belonging to the club and when you have that feeling, and then you understand the history of the derbies, how both teams were historically created, and what has happened over the years, then that makes it very special. I think it’s a very special city, it’s a really special country, very passionate fans and it’s a great atmosphere to play in. 

on who will be doing the team talk this time:

It depends on the moment but obviously we have so many people here that have been here much longer than us. Their feelings toward the club are even deeper than ours, and I felt in that moment it was the right thing to do. For someone that is with us every day, that knows the players, and knows what it means, to express how he was feeling about it.

on whether Emile Smith Rowe will be back after the World Cup:

Hopefully yes. We had to make a decision because we could not continue the uncertainty as to whether we have him, or have him with certain conditions. We needed to draw a line so we made that decision and he was the first one demanding that he wanted to make the decision and we supported that, and we have to prepare him to get back stronger than he was.

on how long Smith Rowe will be out for:

After surgery it is very difficult to give a timeline. It depends on the first process, how the bones heal, how was his first reaction, his improvement and how he’s adapting. We need to go step by step; obviously we know that before the World Cup will not be easy, and after that we have a break and we need to use him in the right way.

on how he convinced Jesus to sign for Arsenal:

Edu had a talk with him to describe what the project was, what our club is about and the role he would have in our club. I spoke to him too so it was a team effort and he clearly understood what we wanted to do. The relationship that we have with him helped a lot because there is a trust and that connection already, and then it is completely up to the player to decide.

on whether he was convinced he could sign him:

We were really hopeful and his immediate reaction was extremely positive. After that there are a lot of steps that have to go in the right direction to finalise and get a player to sign for the club, but to be fair Gabby made it pretty easy for us.

on Antonio Conte saying Arsenal are a better side than last season:

First of all - thank you - and hopefully we are, but the next few months will unveil that. We want to get better than we are today as well.

on having any hesitation about playing William Saliba against Kane and Son:

William has shown over the past few months what he is capable of, and that doesn’t mean that things are always going to go in the same direction but he’s been so good that from my side I have no doubts.

on Jesus being one booking away from a suspension:

It is a thin balance and [aggression] is in his nature. He gets a lot of contact and puts his body on the line in every situation, but we have been unlucky in the amount of bookings that he has. Some of them we cannot prevent because they were a bit disciplinary but we want to avoid [a suspension] for sure.

on whether the squad is more prepared for the emotion of the derby this time:

It is a different context. We went into that game with many different circumstances in terms of players that were available to play that game, and what happened during the game. You take the lesson, you learn from it and you move on.

on whether the squad have learnt from last season:

Yes.

on whether the rearrangement last season hindered Arsenal:

I have no idea. If you want to play in the Champions League, you have to get the moment where the pressure is on and the circumstances and overcome the situation. That day we didn’t do it, from our side and the decisions that were made in that game.

on what he wants to see from the officials:

Let him do his job - that’s it.

on how important decision-making will be in the box:

We will be looking at all those things and we have to focus on what we can do on the pitch and let the referee run the game.

on whether surgery for Smith Rowe was the initial plan:

We put all the alternatives on the table and the thing is we have tried some others during the last few months and they haven’t really worked to the point the player wasn’t comfortable and consistently at his best to perform. We decided to take that route and that it was the best decision, and we’ll stick to it and move on.

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