Interview

Transcript: Arteta on West Brom, form, confidence

After a difficult start to the season, we sat down with Mikel Arteta to reflect on our season so far and look ahead to our Carabao Cup trip to West Brom on Wednesday evening.

This is what our manager said:

on maintaining focus and belief...
Well, you have to realise first that the position that we are in is not where we want to be and we should not accept it. We should not use too many excuses to justify where we are, just try to use the moment and the challenge ahead of us as an opportunity and take it and encourage everybody around you to have the same mentality, the same energy, and things will turn around. We have done a lot of work, we are under difficult circumstances at the moment, but we need everybody together and the spirit to be fair around here, the togetherness that we have around the team, and even with the ownership, it's really strong, but we need to give our fans and probably the outside world some encouragement, and that's only given with results, so we need to get results.

on building confidence going forward...
Well, that's a big word, confidence in what we do and what they are capable of doing and try to find the reasons why you don't win football matches. They know our preparation has been disturbed. We had to do something at the Brentford game and we had to alter it 24 hours before the game. It happened exactly the same thing against Chelsea, but we have to adapt. I want to say they are a team that never gives up and we didn't do it in either of those two games, so I think there were different feelings after the games. Against Chelsea, you saw a team in the second half as well that keeps believing. But, to be fair, they were better than us, and that's football. 

on injuries and Covid cases...
Well, we had different ideas of what we wanted to do in the games and the plans the players thought they were going to be utilising but credit to the boys for how they tried. We put out there the youngest team in the Premier League by far on both occasions, and you can see that in certain moments. Some of them are having their first experience and we have some big players out of the picture right now, but the picture in football can change really quickly, and that's the positive thing and what I'm really hopeful with.

on our performances so far...
I think there were two different performances against Brentford. The first 15-20 minutes, we didn't have anything. We conceded from a second phase. In a corner, you get momentum and then we struggled to progress and find real moments of threat in their half. In the second half, we were much better. We had total control of the game. I think we had 23 shots, but again, not enough real threat in the box to find a way to score a goal. Not enough shots on target to be fair. Then we conceded from another set-piece that was debatable whether it was a foul or not. The game is gone against Chelsea. I think we started the game really well. The first time that we got opened up, they used it, they scored a goal. Then we went through 25-30 minutes of difficult moments before half-time where we had five minutes where it was the penalty on Bukayo. We had four or five corners and better entries in the final third. In the second half, we tried to give it a go and you know when that happens as well, there's going to be moments when you're going to be open. They are, in my opinion, the best team at the moment in Europe at that and we didn't manage again to score. We need clean sheets and we need to score goals. Without that we won't be winning enough football matches and that's for me the main area, the two boxes.
 
on signing Martin Odegaard...
I was really happy because at one stage we thought it wouldn’t be possible, Madrid wasn’t very keen on selling the player. Martin always expressed his desire to come, but it wasn’t looking very possible and then the door opened and straight away the club was really supportive and Edu did a great job to manage the situation and we got the player that we wanted and we know because we have experience already with him for six months. I think he makes the rest of the players around him better. His work ethic is phenomenal, the way he goes about his job, his professionalism, his character, he’s a very likeable person. I think he has fitted really well into the culture and then for the way we want to play he’s a player with exceptional qualities to add to them.

on how Aaron Ramsdale has settled in...
With Aaron I spoke to him a few times before he signed and I was really impressed with his personality, his character. We need two goalkeepers, two top goalkeepers in this club, it’s always been the case and when I was here we always had two really good goalkeepers with different qualities and different age profiles and they need to compete. That’s what we want in every situation. Every role we want people to compete and the goalkeeper situation is no different.

on their chances of being involved against West Brom...
We will see. They’ve both been training a few days, only a few days, we just got the VISA from Martin yesterday I think and Aaron has been a while without training, but they both want to play.

on if the Carabao Cup is a good chance for us to build intensity...
Yeah, let’s see who is available again. We had some knocks and stuff from the game and players that need minutes and want minutes, and it’s a competition obviously that we want to fight for. We need a win as well.

on his message to the fans ahead of our games against West Brom and Manchester City...
First of all, to say thank you because the atmosphere that we saw before the game when the team was getting the introduction of every member, it was so special, I had goose bumps and I was feeling like nothing before. Then I think they tried to support the team very much and I know they are disappointed when you lose at home, there has to be some reaction, but this is a project that is going to take some time. You can see and tell from the recruitment that we’ve done and the really young squad that we have at the moment and it cannot happen overnight. We all want to make it as quick as possible and we know that the responsibility for us it to fight with the top teams in every competition and that’s not going to change, and I think we really need them and this group of players really needs them and the club needs them now next to us because we need that confidence, that support and that energy.

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