Press conference

'Smith Rowe and Saka give me a lot of confidence'

It was a deeply disappointing night on Thursday as we exited the Europa League - but the performance of Emile Smith Rowe provided some positivity.

The 20-year-old was at the heart of our attacking play, constantly demanding the ball and trying to make things happen, and was the last to leave the pitch at the end such was his disappointment.

So how can the likes of Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka help shape our future?

"It gives me a lot of confidence because they have shown what they can do," Mikel Arteta said. "It's true that playing in a semi-final at this level is a different story, but as well they need the right surroundings around them to grow, without putting too much pressure on them.

"[Emile] took responsibility in the second half, he really tried. He had a big chance to score and I think he was feeling responsible, which is a good reaction from him but we have to bear in mind that those players have never played a game like that, it was their first experience and they have to go through that - and they will learn."

One of Smith Rowe's biggest qualities is his bravery on the ball and how he always demands possession - and Arteta believes that will stand him in good stead for the future.

"If you don't have this quality you can't play at the highest level," he said. "It doesn't matter how old you are, it has to be in your system and part of you that you want to be able to take the ball anywhere, under any conditions and any kind of pressure."
 

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