Press conference

Every word from Mikel's pre-Tottenham presser

Ahead of Sunday's north London derby, Mikel Arteta held his usual pre-match press conference to give his thoughts ahead of the game against Tottenham Hotspur.

The boss was thrown questions about topics including last season's trip, injury updates, transfer rumours and his memories of derby day.

Here is everything he had to say:

on the size of Sunday’s game:
I just love it - that’s the reason why we’re here, to play these kinds of games. It’s one of the biggest games of the season for us. We know how much it means for us right now and how much it means to our people as well. We have to focus on playing well and doing what we have to do to win the game.

on if he feels better equipped for the derby than he did last May:
That was the result, the performance, the context of actually what happened in that game. There are a lot of things to learn from, a lot of things to take from it. We haven’t won there, and that’s the challenge we have ahead of us. 

on how much better the side is now:
We are in a different place. We have to show that playing the way we want to play.

on the recent FA charges:
I prefer not to comment.

on having a conversation with his players about their conduct:
Anything that we can do to improve, we will always have a conversation with our players, with the staff and with the club as well to see what we can do [and what] we have to change in the game. 

on rumours linking Arsenal with signing Mudryk:
We cannot talk about any other players. There is some interest in things we’d like to do to improve the team, because we are a bit short in certain areas with the injuries we’ve [picked up]. We are trying as a club - we are determined to try to improve the team in every window and that’s what we’re trying to do.

on missing Mudryk’s social posts:
Mark [Gonnella] will tell you how good I am with the phone!

on Gabriel Jesus’ recovery:
He’s progressing really well. He’s working really hard. He’s in the right place in his recovery regarding the time that we set for him, but he’s still a bit far [away] to be back.

on when he will be back:
I would like to see him very quickly but I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’re going to have to be patient with that one. With every surgery there are always a lot of things you have to be very cautious with, especially in the first few weeks. He’s going to push everybody there to be on the pitch really [soon], but we have to be cautious as well.

on Emile Smith Rowe’s return:
It’s great to have him back. He felt good, they were his first minutes after four months. He’s worked so hard to be in the position he is today. Now we need to give him minutes and we need to get him back in the team because he’s a very important player for us.

on his NLD memories:
Emotional, very passionate, an incredible feeling when you are on that pitch and look around and see the support, tension and atmosphere around it. When you win, it doesn’t get much better than that.

on if there is more pressure in this NLD than October’s:
That’s the challenge that we have. We have to beat them at their place.

on what he is expecting from Tottenham:
I don’t know. Sometimes they approach games in different ways. Sometimes they are very aggressive from the beginning and sometimes they allow you to make the game and they have a lot of tools to use to cause you problems. Let’s see how the game develops. We’ll prepare for any occasion in the best possible way and then it will be left to the players to do what they have to do on the pitch.

on whether our reputation has improved since our last visit to Spurs:
I don’t know, obviously the way we have performed and the results that we have got confidence-wise puts us in a good position, but then it’s something that you have to show in every single match, every opponent and especially every away game brings big challenges and this is no different. We have to prove that we are good enough to go there, play our way and win the match.

on whether he prepares the team differently for an away NLD:
We prepare every game differently because every game brings challenges and opportunities. In every game, teams are in different moments and we cannot approach every game in the same way. We have a way of playing, but within that, we talk and discuss different things in relation to the opponent that we face.

on whether he can enjoy the drama of derby days:
In the preparation, probably not because we are so focused in what we do, and we just want to put attention to detail into that. Once you are there, you realise the moment and it’s, in my opinion, one of the best things to do - actually realise how lucky we are to be in the position that we are in and having the possibility to affect the game.

on if he has spoken to the players about the cauldron-like atmosphere:
We prepare every game in a different way, and we’ve talked about things that we feel are relevant to the way that the game can develop. These are the kind of things that we discuss every week.

on the message a win would send our title challengers:
We don’t think about sending messages, we think about performances and playing well, and earning the right to win the game, and that’s what we have to do. The best way to do it is to focus on that - the rest we cannot control. I don’t know the perception of us and the way the rest analyse us, so we just have to focus on what we can do.

on taking pressure off the players:
We just face the challenge and the opportunity ahead of us, and we know where we are. At Arsenal you don’t expect anything that is not winning football matches every three days. That’s the demand we have as a club and everybody individually and every member of staff knows that. The challenge is weekly or daily to be better and to win the game. It doesn’t matter who you play against.
 
on Bukayo Saka’s fitness:
I think he will be OK.
 
on whether attacking players should be protected more:
It’s something we have discussed many times. Referees have a duty to protect the players and the game in general, and they do their best to try to do that.
 
on whether he has changed as a manager since May:
I don’t know, I try to be myself, I try to be honest. Other people are entitled to their opinion, like I am to mine.
 
on the title race:
In this league, every week is so challenging. It’s so difficult and you see it every week. You don’t expect certain results that actually happen so looking too far in the calendar or making some games more difficult than others really doesn’t work in this league.
 
on going game by game:
I go training by training now! It’s the next training session, what you do today, tomorrow do better.
 
on our players feeling pressure ahead of this game:
I think the players are in a really good emotional state. We are excited, we are enjoying playing together and we are in a good position. So we have to improve a lot of the things we still have to do, and we have to maintain the things that have taken us this far.
 
on our record at Tottenham’s new stadium:
In the last few years there were places we haven’t won for 15, 17 or 20 years. I would like to do it all at once. We haven’t been able to do that, so we have a great challenge and opportunity on Sunday to get that done.

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