Press conference

'We just lacked that creativity and spark'

Mikel Arteta was in reflective mood as he faced the media after our defeat to Aston Villa on Tuesday night.

Our head coach was asked about the reasons for our display, what he needs in the transfer window and Mesut Ozil.
 
This is what he said in his press conference:
 
on the disappointment of the result..
This is football and every game is completely different. First of all, I'll congratulate Villa on their performance and the win under such pressure of fighting relegation and for us it's been a very emotionally and physically demanding week. We tried everything. I think you cannot fault the effort of the players, but after the goal we needed to find ways to attack them better in the final third and we lacked that creativity and that final cross and spark.

on how his players can get past the issue of attacking low blocks...
Training, time and understanding the spaces. Where they are, how we can provoke them, where we need the bodies and the areas that we have to attack. And then a little bit in the first half I felt that we didn't have the urgency with the ball. In the second half it was much better, we controlled the transitions much better as well, but it wasn't enough.

on if he doesn't see the logic in selecting Ozil against low blocks...
We played other games as well and the answer is not just a player, it is a collective of patterns that have to happen and we did really well in certain ways but the end product of the final ball wasn't good enough and the last chance that we had hit the post. But this is football.

on the banner that was flown over the stadium...
I have full support from the Kroenkes, from the board, from the sporting director and we are putting a very strong plan together to try to do as much as we can in the shortest period. At the end of the day, the league table doesn't lie and we know the gap that we have to fill in and we are on board with trying to do everything together.

on whether he thinks his comments after the Liverpool game led the fans to this conclusion...
I don't know but if that's the impression then it's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to emphasise - and I'll do it again - that we need to improve in many areas. The first of all is my responsibility, to improve the team and everything with the mentality of course as well. After that, we have certain areas that we need to get better. The top teams in certain areas are better than us and we have to do that. The uncertainty is the reality. We have uncertainty because of the coronavirus, it hit everybody hard and we don't know if we are finishing in Europe and there is uncertainty with a few players, so I have to try to be honest and that is what I said.
 
on if this is a key transfer window for us...
That is one thing, and the other thing is the specificity you need within that squad balance to do it consistently. We've done it, today we had a different challenge, completely different game and we have to find a way to do that. That will take time because at the end of the day when you have that many points of margin with the top teams it's for a reason. We know that reason and we will try to put it right with a lot of work first and in the right moments with the players that we need in order to do that.

on if this result shows what a big transfer window this will be...
The big challenge is to keep going on the process, keep the players believing in what we are doing, improve them as much as we can and then make some really good decisions in certain areas and that's what we need. That's it.

on finishing outside of the top six...
It has to hurt and we have to suffer because it is not good enough for this football club. That's why we have to put it right, we have a challenge that is really big and we are facing it and we are really excited about what we have ahead of us. We need to transmit this enthusiasm and passion because they're going to be some ups and down, unfortunately. Today is a down but sometimes it is good to see the reality and then go again and move on and improve.

on having the FA Cup final still to come...
Absolutely and I think if we looked back we would be happy to be in the position that we are. To have the opportunity to grab a trophy and go directly to Europe.

on if the FA Cup being our only route to Europe now affects our approach to our final Premier League game...
No, no, no. We will try to prepare for the game in exactly the same way, try to beat Watford. We need to win straight away, after a defeat you need to win. You need to get that momentum back, the confidence... Everybody has to feel ready for the final so that won't be case

on if there is now added pressure for the final...
Yes because after a disappointment you have to lift the players and you want to play straight away as quickly as possible. The players were disappointed today, again I can't fault their effort because I think they tried and tried till the last miute really really hard but it's been an emotionally and physically demanding week. If we feel like that we have to find way to come here and win when you are so dominant.... It is what it is.

on Mesut Ozil...
I don't know. I try to make the best decisions for the team and the club.

on if that's the best decision for the team...
All I can say is sometimes I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong and sometimes I get it very wrong so all the time I will try my best.

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