Press conference

The kids are worth a risk, says Arteta


Mikel Arteta made nine changes to his team for our Emirates FA Cup tie at Portsmouth, and his rotation policy was rewarded with a place in the quarter-finals.

Read on for some of the key quotes from our head coach's press conference - including Mikel's thoughts on Reiss Nelson and Sokratis.

on the performance…
To come here, to this stadium, with seven under-23 players, and to dominate completely is a little bit unrealistic but we went through that moment [at the start] and after that we started to take the ball and play in the opposition half and dominate the situation much better. We scored the goals and should have scored more.

on Reiss Nelson..
I am pleased with all of them, the kids really responded really well. The energy… I was looking at them in the 94th minute and they were still pressing and going and chasing. It is a joy and I am really enjoying working with them. They fully deserve the chance and I don't know if it risky to play them in this competition but they are worth a risk.

on not having any doubts about playing them…
No, no.

on the big teams left in the Emirates FA Cup…
Of course. To win any competition you need to be lucky with the draw, you need to have luck in certain moments and after you have to look after every detail if you want to win. It looks like it [could be seven of the top 10 teams in the next round] but let’s see what happens, let’s see what the next draw is, but we have another game in the Premier League on Saturday, so let’s focus on that.

on Sokratis at right back…
He moans a little bit because it is not his position! But for certain games, he is very helpful and he always has the right attitude and he has the qualities to play there in essential moments when we need him.

on giving Sokratis a lot of instructions from the side…
Yes, sometimes you need to interpret that when we have the ball it is a little bit different for him to use the spaces like he should do in relation to what the opponents are doing, but in general I think he is doing really well.

on Ainsley Maitland-Niles…
Ainsley needs to put his head down and work hard and show me every day in training that he wants it more than anyone else, he wants to play for this club and fight for his place.

on taking a risk with a young side after going out of the Europa League…
Yes, but even winning in the Europa League it was… I assessed the team and physically some of them were knackered, some of them had issues, some of them mentally were hanging on what happened that day so I tried to pick the right team knowing how they were and I made the most of it. If you win, it is okay but if we had lost obviously it would have been the wrong decision.

on whether the Olympiacos result affected the players mentally…
It did obviously [and it impacted team selection]. And the energy, the focus and the willingness and desire to have play in this competition is really important.

on the youngsters not playing in such an atmosphere before…
Probably not but they have lived in England long enough and they have seen a lot of big teams collapse in stadiums like this, and that is a good lesson.

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