Press conference

'To play here, you have to handle the pressure'

It's been a tough start to life in north London for Alex Runarsson - but Mikel Arteta has backed the goalkeeper to rise to the challenge.

With Bernd Leno suspended, the Iceland international could be in line to face Aston Villa on Saturday and our manager says he must ignore any past criticism and focus on the job in hand.

"This is what you face when you play for a big club," Arteta said. "People expect when you go out there to give your best and perform at the top level, and if you don’t, you’re going to get that criticism.

"You know that before you joined the club that you’ll be exposed to critics all the time, and if you do really well, people will be praising you more than at any other club. If you want to play here, you have to be able to handle that pressure.

"I think he knew and he expected that, and he needs to handle that. We are here to support him and he’s played some games already here. He’s played some good games and yes he had a difficult game against Manchester City, but the other night he came on [against Wolves] and I think he did well.

"He works really hard and he’s fitting in really well around the dressing room. He’s a really nice boy, really humble and he needs to be away from all the comments to focus on his work and improving.

"Alex knew his role before we signed him and obviously he knows his role after we signed him. We had a plan on the goalkeeper position and we could not execute the plan in the way we wanted, for different reasons, but Alex's role was very clear around the squad. That hasn't changed.

"Then, he needs to earn his opportunity and he needs to earn his place. He is third, second or first, depending on his performance. He needs to push for that."

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