Press conference

‘We have three routes… we must maximise them'

Mikel Arteta and Alex Lacazette faced a packed press conference room at London Colney on Wednesday ahead of our Europa League clash against Olympiacos.

Our head coach and striker were asked about a host of subjects, including our best route to secure Champions League football, Bukayo Saka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and more.
 
Read on for a full transcript:
 on the first leg and what pleased him most...
MA - I was very pleased with the performance in general, apart from the first 10 minutes when we had some issues to control - defensively, in the final third - some situations and as well, when we gave the ball away in difficult areas when we could've progressed our play and become dangerous. But apart from that, the team played with a lot of personality in a very difficult stadium, against a good opponent with a great record in their own stadium. And we managed to score and win the game, which is a positive too.

on how much the goal and celebrations against Newcastle meant...
AL - I really enjoyed my goal against Newcastle, because it was a long time that I didn't score. And obviously, the way my teammates celebrated with me showed the mentality that we have now in the group. So it's only positive things about this group.

on the latest update on Kolasinac...
MA - He is seeing the specialist today and we will know more this afternoon. But yes, he was in pain, it's a difficult area and we are not very positive about it.

on whether he thinks Sead will play again this season...
MA - Hopefully, yes. But I don't know. It's depending on whether he's dislocated it and if he needs surgery or not. We will know more this afternoon, hopefully.

on whether he has to prioritise competitions and if that will reflect in the team he selects...
MA - The team selection is based on what I see in training, the load of the players and what we want to do against the opponent. We have three different routes to Europe. We have to try to maximise the three of them and we go game-by-game. That's all we can do at the moment because the objectives are still so far behind.

on whether he thinks the Premier League is a realistic path...
MA - We need to win a lot of games. We need to put a very consistent run together and we've just won two games - which is not enough.

00:29

Auba heads home the winner against Everton ⚡️

on our best path to the Champions League...
MA - We need to win a lot of games; we need to put a very consistent run together and we just won two games which is not enough.

on reports of a Champions League exit clause in his contract...
AL - I didn't know about this. I did not know. Yeah, I have a contract with the club so there is no point for me to leave, everybody is happy with me at the club.

on how the team is progressing...
MA - Well a lot of things happen in two months obviously, in all different areas of the club. I think the team is progressing well. I think the club is looking in a better place, I think we are getting much more unity in the sections of the club and we are getting a great energy back from the fans when we play at the Emirates and away from the Emirates, there's a lot of positive things but there's still a lot of things to do. A lot of things to improve, individually, collectively and as a club and we are in that process at the moment.

on the physicality of the Premier League...
MA - I have said how condensed the calendar is in December and January, normally when you get to February, you start to suffer and pay the price. Normally after the international break in March teams are fresher again to get back the end of the season. It's part of the process, it's why this league is so demanding and so nice to play in as well because you have so many games but physically it's tough.

on the young players at the club...
AL - It's nice, it's good for the club, for the team. That means there is a lot of quality in the academy. Obviously, they need to improve because they are young.

on how important it is to keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang...
AL - It's really important. He's one of the best or maybe he's been the best player this season for Arsenal. Obviously I hope he's going to stay.

on who helped him through his goal drought...
AL - The coach, my team-mates as well. Obviously I'm a striker but I'm not only here to score goals. I have to help the team to defend, to build up the game. For me it's not the best thing when I'm not scoring, but they helped me through this.

on whether he felt pressure when he wasn't scoring...
AL - There is a pressure but it's more about me because I want to score and I want to help my team. It was not the pressure of my transfer [fee].

09:14

Access All Areas 🅰️🅰️🅰️ | Behind the scenes at Olympiacos

on whether it's been hard for Nicolas Pepe to deal with the expectations...
AL - No because he just came into the league. Yes, he wanted to score to help the team but he knows he needs time to adapt to the league and the team. Now I think he's feeling better on the pitch and that's good.

on how he rates Bukayo Saka...
AL - He's really good. I think he's maybe the best young player in the league. Like I said, he needs to improve in a few things but you can see the quality he has and he's humble. The best thing for him is to be involved. He wants to work, he accepts criticism because he wants to improve.

on what makes him the best young player in the league...
AL - It's simple: his quality. He's got a good left foot. Because he is humble, it's easier for him to improve.

on whether people underestimated him during his drought...
AL - A lot of people can talk. There is always something to say so I don't really think about this. If the manager, the coach, my team-mates are happy with me then that's the most important thing.

on whether people appreciate how good Aubameyang really is…
AL - I think people should talk more about Auba and what he is doing in the game because he is more than a goalscorer, he is working a lot for the team defensively and making space for the other striker - Eddie or me - and I think if we start to win more trophies, people will talk more about what he is doing for the team.
 on whether it’s been one of his most difficult seasons…
AL - I would say difficult but in this moment we improve a lot, mentally and we can keep big confidence now because I went through this and know I can be better now.

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