Press conference

Arteta on West Ham, Saka, transfers, the top four

Mikel Arteta faced the media on Friday ahead of our Premier League clash with West Ham at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The boss was asked about the latest team news, Bukayo Saka's form, our summer transfer plans, the top-four race and the challenge posed by David Moyes' side among other topics.

Read on for a full transcript:

on Bukayo Saka's injury...
Hopefully he will be fine. He had some issues in the final part of the game but he's recovered well and we expect him to be available.

on Thomas Partey's recovery…
He's progressing but he had a significant injury, a recurring injury as well, so we don’t expect him to make progress that quickly to see him this season, but hopefully I am wrong.

on Takehiro Tomiyasu...
You only know that when a player's been out for a long spell when you put him on the pitch. He hasn’t started any matches yet. He's lacked a bit of time on the pitch so it’s a decision we will make tomorrow.

on whether it's a two-horse race for the top four…
I don’t think so, there will still be some twists and turns, we all have difficult matches to play. We all know how difficult it is to win games in the Premier League and now we had two really good results that put us in a really good position. But it is about doing it again at West Ham.

on how big a third straight win would be…
I think in the league when you are able to win consecutively away and at home, it gives you a huge platform and things quickly change. We have some momentum now and we want to make the most out of it.

on West Ham playing between the Europa League semi-final matches…
They have been doing that all season and they have been really good in both competitions. They have a big squad as well, they have many different options to change their players and still maintain their level. So I don’t see that. We have played games Wednesday night and Saturday at 12.30pm, we have managed to beat them, so I don’t think about that.

on improving since playing West Ham away last season…
Hopefully a lot, especially what we did in the first 20 or 30 minutes of that game that we put ourselves in a really difficult position. It's true that we reacted phenomenally well, but we want to start the game in a different way.

on Granit Xhaka's renaissance…
[It's due to] things that are happening in his life, his private life, he's a father now. He's been through a lot, he's been through difficult moments here, he's found a lot of support internally to deal with certain situations. His character, the way he approaches problems, how he's willing to change things, improve constantly, to become a better person and a better player, so credit to him for what he's done.

on Jurgen Klopp's new contract…
We have enough deciding what's right for us, so whatever the other teams do, I'm assuming it's to keep them at the best level. Jurgen has shown what he offers the club in the past six years.

on playing after Tottenham in the next few weeks…
I think everybody knows about that. The last time they played before us and we didn't take that advantage and it's gone the other way around as well so we can just focus on what we can do.

on the benefits of Tottenham losing...
If we win, yes. If they lose and we win obviously we have one game less in a much stronger position.

on West Ham playing in Europe and competing in the Premier League...
It is very demanding but you watched yesterday's game and the chances that they created and the chances that they missed it could have been very very different so I don't think it's a performance issue but of course, it is demanding when you play three times a week.

on the benefits of a season outside of Europe...
It's what we had. I said we're going to fight to make the most out of it and try to play it in our favour and try to take advantage of that situation.

on the new experience for players of playing under pressure...
For most of them it is but it's been like this for the last two or three months where everyone is talking about it and they can feel the importance of every match but this is what we want in April and May, for things to play for.

on what's changed from this time last year...
We have very different players in the squad and we have a very different environment. I think the unity that exists right now between the team, the staff, our supporters and externally is completely different and is very very beneficial for the team and obviously, how the team has evolved in its understanding of what we want to do is much better, the execution of it is much better, the consistency of results is better and what we're trying to do is seek for improvement every single day and probably what we did a year ago is what you see now.

on if he's a better manager now than last year...
I hope I am and the same tomorrow. This is my aim every day.

on whether he knows his plan for the summer...
Yes.

on if he's identified talents for the summer window despite where we finish...
It's not as easy as that but the plan is very clear.

on Hector Bellerin...
Any player with a contractual obligation with us, both ways, is our player and is considered our player so every plan is considered uif that possibility exists and how they could fit in our team.

on whether West Ham and Leicester will rest players...
It's a decision on how they manage their squad, how they get the best out of their squad and how close they think they are of reaching something that they have to prioritise. You have to respect that decision.

on whether that makes it difficult to prepare…
We are guessing here. We don’t know what they think, what they think is better to prepare the match. All we are doing is preparing for the game in the normal way and knowing that it could vary and there could be some options.

on Saka’s mental strength after the Euros…
The first two conversations that I had [with him] it was straight after the incident, but Gareth Southgate was really helpful as well because he had Bukayo in his hands at that moment and they were really caring and really supportive of him, so by the time he joined us, he was in a really good place. Obviously, he got all this support and love and help in any way that he needed it to overcome that situation and then it’s down to him and his family around him that were very helpful for him.

on the pressure our young players face with England…
Yes, but I think they’re doing it at their clubs and that’s really, really important so again, the step of demands is not that high, they are already key and important players in their own clubs, so they’re used to that pressure and at international level it’s something very different, but I think they have the maturity and they have the capacity to sustain that level under pressure because they’re doing it every week at their clubs.

on facing Everton on the final day of the season…
As you said, the manager only looks at their next match. You already answered your own question!

on Tomiyasu’s ability with his weaker foot…
Well, when we follow the player and we identify him as one of the candidates, obviously it one of the things that I came across and it gives you a lot of solutions. Not only because he can use both feet, but he can play right centre-back, left centre-back, he can play left-back so that gives you enormous variability and it’s the way they’ve been raised and coached since a really young age, that’s what he says so for him, left and right is the same.

on if he spoke to Tomiyasu about using his weaker foot…
Yes, I asked him how he’s been coached, it’s always very interesting things that we can take on board and get involved and implement in our club, because it’s such a beneficial thing, so it’s important to understand other coaches and other ways of coaching.

on if Saka is our penalty taker…
Well, tomorrow if someone has to take a penalty, he will take it. Again, but it happened quite naturally in the Chelsea game, he took it and the next game we had another one and hopefully he can continue to put the ball in the back of the net.

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