Press conference

Transcript: Arteta on Dundalk, Aubameyang, Saliba

For the final time this season, Mikel Arteta sat down with the assembled media to preview a Europa League group-stage game in his virtual press conference.

Up for discussion was his travelling squad, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's form, plans for William Saliba and Arteta's reaction to Tuesday evening's events in Paris.

Scroll down for a full transcript:

on how he's feeling after the north London derby...
The demands for this football club are the highest. We are not getting the results in the league that we all expect, of course the pressure is increasing. But more than the pressure, I would say the responsibility of all of us to make it happen next Sunday and start winning football matches, which is the most important thing.

on how he copes with that pressure...
I always work harder. I sleep less and I try to encourage everybody that is next to us to be positive and to believe in what we do. This is how I approach the situation.

on team news...
We have a few kids here. We left a few players at home as well. There are a lot of games and we need a complete training week as well, which I think is going to benefit us. But we're still going to have a very competitive team to play tomorrow.

on who has been left in London...
I cannot name all of them but a few of them!

on Thomas Partey...
He got injured in the same area, not exactly the same spot but the same area as before. He will miss the next few matches.

on whether it was an unnecessary risk to rush him back...
He did incredibly well and he was very confident. We tested him three times and he had zero symptoms, but in football you have a lot of unpredictable actions. He went into the floor, his knee got stuck, afterwards he stretched and got up. Immediately he put a lot of stress in a similar area and it happened. Afterwards people will say it was a bit early but I don't think it was because he was completely fine to play.

on the alleged racism during Tuesday's game in Paris...
It was very surprising. I did not hear exactly what happened, I've seen the incident. But after I saw the reaction and the unity that both teams and both clubs showed. I'm sure that if it's something that did happen, Uefa will investigate the actions really carefully because we've done a lot of work in recent years to try to avoid this kind of behaviour in football. I think it was a very strong message.

on whether Arsenal's players have discussed that incident in Paris...
I don't know if they have done it in the dressing room, but we have done around the club and with our staff because it is an incident that has a lot of attention in the media and around our industry. As I said, I hope that Uefa investigate the action really well and then let's see what happens from there.

on why we have struggled in the Premier League since the Manchester United win...
Mainly the results. It's strange to say but we played much better against Spurs than what we did against Manchester United. Against Manchester United, we scored a penalty and won 1-0. We had an incredible performance but then we lost the derby 2-0 so obviously we cannot talk about that because we have lost the game. We cannot be so analytical just with one thing in the work that we do because there are many other factors that contribute. But obviously we are here to win football matches and that's the only thing that people see at the end.

on Hector Bellerin's foul throws...
I think it was really, really harsh. We sent the images to the Premier League because there have been many, many incidents, much worse than that but they were never [given as foul throws]. But we will keep working and making sure that we do the action properly of course.

on William Saliba...
Whenever we have the spaces and we believe that he's ready to play with us. To be fair, he's made massive improvements in the last few months and it's been a really tricky situation for him. As I mentioned before, designed a pathway for him and there were a lot of things that happened to him in his personal life and professionally as well. Now we've made some steps forwards, he's working really hard and played for the under-21s again. That was a good game because Martinelli finally came back for 45 minutes, so I think it was a really positive day for us in terms of that.

on whether Saliba could leave on loan in January...
It's something that we are discussing at the moment, the best thing for us to do. It will be decided soon.

on whether he was tempted to play Aubameyang tomorrow...
No.

on whether Aubameyang is undroppable in the Premier League...
No one is undroppable. At the end of the day, we have to find the right players to win football matches. But we cannot forget what Auba has done for this club and what he has done in recent months, not years ago. As well, I see how he's training and how he's behaving, how much he wants to turn this situation around. When I see that type of hunger, it's about supporting the player as well as the status he has in the team because of the performances he has provided for this football club.

on whether Auba's morale has dropped and if it's important to keep him positive...
Listen, today and this week, the response that I've seen from the players and the reaction I saw from the players after the match, I cannot be any prouder. Because I know how difficult it is for everybody at the moment. After losing a derby you can be completely down and I saw a completely different team, a team that wants to fight, that has a big belief in what they are trying to do and they want to push themselves and push each other harder and harder. Auba was one of the main guys there and today he was walking around the place with an energy that wouldn't be associated to a team or a player that is suffering at the moment and that is for me the way we have to approach it.

on whether Auba is a vocal captain in the dressing room...
If necessary, he will do it but I think he transmits his energy, his desire and his commitment to the team in different ways.

on how long he thinks it will take to build a team to play in the ideal formation and tactics he wants to play and the sort of players he will want to add to the group...
There are players that can develop perfectly into that formation [4-3-3] and one thing is that the ideal thing you would like to do and the other is the possibility that you have to achieve that. As a coach, you have to adapt to what we have and what we can do in the future, obviously we have to work to evolve it to where we want because as well we have to recruit players that are very specific for certain areas and whether you have them or not is a question that is at the moment one of the issues that we have.

on whether five or six players is an accurate number of new players he will need...
No but it's not just to recruit because there are players that are evolving that you could not see that they could play in those positions and now you see how they are performing and playing. We've got a lot of players that are here that weren't capable to play in that way of playing and they are. So as well, it's about timings, it's about coaching them and about them evolving in the right positions and maturing. It's a bit of everything.

on if he thinks his senior players are justifying his faith in them...
Well, if I pick them then it's because I believe that we have a better chance to win football matches. We play young players in delicate moments as well and we played young players in finals. I think it's a bit much to say we just play the senior players in the Premier League.

on the game against Dundalk being a chance for a young player to put pressure on senior players...
Yes and they are putting the pressure on. We have some really good examples of things that have happened in the last few months and not only players that are starting football matches in different competitions, but as well, players that have taken the spot of somebody senior in that team or that squad.

on whether that process could continue...
That process will continue.

on if he'd support his team if they chose to walk off the pitch due to an incident of racism...
Absolutely. If the players believe that is the right thing to do, I will do it and be right behind them.

on what he expects from Dundalk...
Well, first of all I would like to congratulate them for winning the cup on Sunday. That's a great achievement, so congratulations to the club, the coaching staff and the players. And yes, I saw a really brave team when they came to the Emirates and I think they will play with no fear in a beautiful stadium and they will make things difficult for us.

on whether we've trained on the pitch yet as it has been used a lot recently...
No, that's why we decided to come straight to the hotel and we had our training session in London. Let's leave the pitch a little bit to breathe because it's had two intense matches in the last 72 hours.

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