Mikel Arteta, Martin Odegaard and Eddie Nketiah fielded the questions at the pre-match press conference for the MLS All-Star match.
The three spoke about their tour to America, Major League Soccer, Declan Rice and more in front of assembled journalists at Washington Hotel.
Here’s a full transcript of the press conference:
on taking inspiration from other coaches and other sports:
MA: It’s always great to be connected with coaches that have various experiences in other sports, in other leagues, in other countries. We have a group that we chat about many different topics and for me it's really great to understand other sports, other ways of thinking, other ways of coaching as well and leading, which is what we do. It’s been a big learning process for me.
on the spectacle of the MLS:
MO: I think it's great to be here. We had a great experience here last year connecting with the fans from different areas. It’s great to see all the love we get here and to see different cultures. As I said we had a great time here last year, and I’m looking forward again to play in front of the fans and to connect with them and hopefully give them a good experience with some good performances. So, yeah, I’m just happy to be here and excited to play again.
EN: Yeah, just to add to that, like Martin said it's a really lovely experience for us to be here. We enjoy our trips here to the States and to test ourselves and get a different opposition and play in different stadiums and connect with different sets of fans. Our fans out here are really great all the times I’ve come here for pre-season. So now we're really excited for the games and grateful for the opportunity to be here and a lovely reception. So hopefully we can put on a good performance and a good show for the fans.
MA: Yeah I’m very excited. Tomorrow's experience is going to be great. It starts tonight with all the challenges that the players have against each other and it's going to be a special, very unpredictable game. Obviously, we're going to change a lot of players as well, but it’s great to be invited and to be part of this, and hopefully we can give something back to the fans here.
on how he sees the MLS now:
MA: Well the history and the way the league has developed over the last 20 years is phenomenal. The attraction that is getting across Europe as well now is very different to what it was before. Now with the decision they made to take the lead much further by bringing top talent and the best-ever football player in this planet, obviously is going to put the league in the spotlight. It was a very clever move and something really good, not only for the league, but everybody that is connected to it.
0n what can he take from this game:
MA: Hopefully the rhythm won't be different and our rhythm will be better than theirs. That's what we are hoping and we always want to play our way, be dominant and it doesn't matter who we play against, that's the attitude that we have. It is very early in pre-season and we know that. The teams we're going to be playing in the next few days are going to be very different. But tomorrow is going to be a challenge. The heat is going to play a part as well, the conditions, but we have to get used to it, to win and play that we want to play under any circumstances. It's a great test for us.
on Folarin Balogun:
EN: Obviously Flo is a really good player. I'm sure a lot of Americans are excited now that he's made his switch over. We followed his progress last season, he had a really good season. So it's good to have him back. All the others that have come back from loan as well. It's good to reintegrate and have them back. They obviously want to show their qualities and impress, like we all do. We're really happy to have him back and wish him all the best. Hopefully he can impress and help us this pre-season to win the games coming up.
MO: I'm just happy to see him do well. Last year in France had a great season and it's a big talent. He works hard and is very hungry to improve all the time. So I’m just happy for him and I'm excited to see him again in the games, and hopefully he can do well and score some goals.
on stepping into the side last season:
EN: It's every player’s dream to play and to help the team. I pride myself on working hard throughout the season and in training hard. So I was really confident coming into the team that I could help. It helps too having great players behind me. I'm grateful for the opportunity of the coach and I'm just hungry for more. We had a really good season, not just myself, but everyone developed, evolved and really contributed.
As a player that's the best thing, you know you have contributed to something greater. Obviously we didn't go all the way, but we came close and we made a lot of progress. So we are hungry to help and to achieve new things this season. Hopefully I can have my role to play in that and we can win some things together.
on being made captain:
MO: Of course it’s a great honour and I’m very proud to be named captain. To have this trust from the club and from the players and everyone means a lot to me. So it's something I'm very proud of and something I enjoy, the responsibility. I'm learning all the time and trying to improve my role as a leader. So I'm very happy and I'm very proud to do that.
on the concept of an All-Star Game in England:
MA: I love the idea. For me as the Arsenal coach to play against the MLS All-Stars is great. I love the experience but if you ask me the other way around, depending when it was in the middle of the season, probably I wouldn’t be that happy to lose my players. But I think it's great for the players to gather together and play in the same team. If I was a player for sure, I would want to experience that so why not in the future it can be done.
on whether Declan Rice will be involved:
MA: We just wanted to manage him. A lot has happened to him in the last five or six days, a very hectic schedule. He had a few training sessions that were really good, but prior to that he didn't do much before he joined us.So we wanted to just manage him. He trained today with us, he was in good form and he’s fine.
on Declan and Eddie being released together:
EN: Obviously I’ve got a good relationship with Dec. We first played together with the under-nines, to under-14s at Chelsea. As you can imagine as kids we played a lot of games together, a lot of travelling. So, me and his dad and my dad were very supportive. We built a bit of a relationship together. We all got released on the same day, as you can imagine it's very tough to take. So the character that we both have to come back, obviously I went to Arsenal and he went to West Ham.
It's funny how life works, we’re back here and playing for Arsenal and hopefully being able to do well together and achieve. I'm really proud of the progress he's made. Seeing him as a kid and the man he's grown into now and I'm really happy to have him here. I’m sure he's going to help us a lot, but like I said, we all want to win together. Hopefully he can be another piece of the puzzle to hopefully bring us closer to where we want to be.
on the healthy level of support in Washington:
MO: As I said before, I think it's amazing to come here and see all the fans we have here. I think for them as well it's nice to see us play. I know the [kick-off] times is a bit difficult for the fans here to watch us play and yeah, it can be difficult. So it's nice to come here and feel the love and give the supporters something back.
We want to give them a good performance, hopefully they'll have fun tomorrow and we want to thank them for all the support now, and also throughout the whole season. The support has been unreal for us. Of course in London and at the Emirates, but also all around the world. We’re grateful for all the love we get and for all the help.
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