Interview

'This is a great advert for the team'

Mikel Arteta was a happy man after masterminding a first leg victory on our return to Europa League action.

The head coach faced the media after our 1-0 win away at Olympiacos and spoke about the character in the team, another clean sheet, and overcoming tricky conditions on the road.

Here's a full transcript of what he said:

on a show of character from the team...
Absolutely. It is tough to come to a stadium like this, away in Europe, and get a win and there were a few lessons in the game for us, and some great things for our development as a team. The first 10 to 15 minutes we suffered because we didn't do the things that we talked about, and didn't execute the simple things. We had a situation to completely break on them and we kept giving simple balls away. In many moments it did not allow us to have the continuity to travel with the ball and play in the opposition half more.

on three consecutive clean sheets...
I was telling them that they have to enjoy defending as well, it is a big part of the game and like tonight, if you give simple balls away, you better run back and get that ball back as quick as possible. They played with a big heart, I saw a lot of big effort and instead of splitting it joins together really quickly. The wide players before used to have different behaviours, now they are tracking back everybody. I think we are doing a lot of work to try to stay as compact as possible in many situations when we don't have it, and I am pleased with that because it is big part.

on winning away from home...
We are really pleased, obviously we talked about turning draws into wins but it doesn't matter if it’s home or away, we have to do it together, so it is great advert for the team to believe that we can go away and get a result that we got tonight. Regarding Papa, I think he got knock or a little twist on his knee and he was playing a different position tonight, with different demands and I think he suffered a bit at the end.

on whether we had luck on our side...
In the first 10 minutes, maybe I agree with you that we were lucky. Then I think they were very lucky in the last 20 minutes because we could have scored two or three. We hit the bar and then had another few open chances to score. There are different sides to the story in this game.

on what happened with Sokratis and the fan...
I don't know. I didn't see it, sorry.

on our chances of reaching the last 16...
I don't know. I look at all the stats as well and how they've been performing at home in the last two years. It's very impressive so I knew it was going to be very tough. It will be a different game at the Emirates. Obviously scoring away from home is very positive but the tie is completely open.

on Bukayo Saka's ninth assist of the season...
I'm really pleased with the way he's developed. And I'm really pleased with the way he's handling these situations because there's a lot of highlight on him at the moment, but he's still really humble. He's still as keen to meet with my assistant, willing to improve. He's a great kid and he makes big decisions in the final third. He's not someone who hides. He's got the vision and the ability to execute when the spaces are really tight. That's a gift.

on how the atmosphere here compared to the Premier League...
Fantastic. Fantastic. It's an incredible atmosphere and you should be very proud of what you have here. We have a fantastic atmosphere in the UK but this is at least as good or even better than many stadiums. It does affect you, yes. When the crowd generates energy, football is about emotion and that transmits to the players. You have to build with that. It's not easy for opponents.

 

 

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