Press conference

Read every word from Mikel's post-Sporting presser

Mikel Arteta post-Sporting CP

Mikel Arteta watched his side share four goals with Sporting CP in a pulsating 2-2 draw in the first leg of our Europa League round of 16 tie in Lisbon.

William Saliba's first-half header and Granit Xhaka's deflected strike ensure we head back to north London with the tie finely balanced.

After the game, Arteta spoke to the media about the draw, our record at defending set-pieces, Fabio Vieira's performance and much more.

Here’s a full transcript from the press conference…

on the game being scrappy:

When you concede two poor goals like we did today away from home in Europe, it’s very difficult to get the positive result that we expected. I think the game had different phases, especially because we gave too many balls away, too many simple balls in our own half and we gave them hope and we gave them the capacity to go into transition moments that they are good at. In the moments we had to take control of the game and we lost a little bit of threat today, especially with the front players that we are missing in our frontline. We had some positive because we showed a lot of resilience to get back in the game, but we need to defend our box much better and we have to be in the return leg to beat them.

on if Sporting’s first goal was due to a lack of communication:

I don’t know what it was. It’s very difficult when it happens in a second, but for sure in that space, somebody cannot have a free header and you concede a goal because it’s too simple.

on taking the Europa League seriously:

We’re not [giving up on this competition] and today we had to go against a few issues that we’ve had in the last few days where we’ve lost a few players. We lost four or three or our strikers, but in this competition if you want to go through, you’re going to have to go through difficult moments. We knew that, we are alive, everything is still to play for at the Emirates and hopefully we will play better and deserve to win the game.

on conceding another set-piece goal:

Sometimes the opponents and really good at what they do. When they get the delivery right, in the right space, it’s just half a centimetre sometimes whether you get that header out of the box or if it goes in. It’s true that it’s something that we must improve dramatically in the next few games if you want to keep winning games.

on Fabio Vieira’s development:

We’re really happy with him, I think he deserves more minutes than he’s had especially in the last two months. Obviously he had a difficult start because he was injured as soon as he joined so he required a bit of time to get back to the level that we want. You saw tonight he was one of our dangerous players, making things happen and he’s a player that I absolutely love.

on his opposite number Ruben Amorim:

What I said before the game is that I really like him. I think what he and the coaches have done over the last few years is remarkable and they are a really good team, so obviously credit to the manager because you can see that he has a really clear idea.

on summing up our performances from the last few weeks:

We are conceding too many simple goals and we’ve talked about the importance of boxes, and especially in a competition where you are in or out. Today we didn’t defend that well enough, and we have to do better up against our opponents. We’ve had a lot of really emotional games recently, and today we made a lot of changes, meaning that cohesion needs some time. You could feel that in the first 10-15 minutes that we needed some time to adapt and to click, but if we don’t expose them, that’s never going to happen.

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