Every word Mikel Arteta said on Martinelli injury, Saka fitness, Pep Guardiola and Man City

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has spoken to the press of the Gunners’ Premier League clash with Manchester City, with the latest injury news on the likes of Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and more

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta at a press conference

Can Saka, Gabriel and Martinelli feature this weekend?

Yeah there is a chance. They haven’t trained. Tomorrow we have another session, so there is a chance they can be available.

That moment is gone. They have gone to the national teams. We have maximised the time we had here with certain players and now everybody is back, everybody is so positive about what’s coming and looking forward to it.

What belief does the win over City earlier this season give you?

Yeah we had some clashes, in the FA Cup as well and in the Community Shield. It’s all great experiences. They have raised the bar in this league and football in general to levels that haven’t been seen before. That’s the beauty of this sport because it makes you better and challenges you more. You have to keep up with that pace and that’s what we’re trying to do.

Does it feel different to last season?

Yeah it is different. The momentum is different. We had certain results and big injuries in that moment but those experiences are there to learn. Sometimes you just have to clap the opponent and that day it was the case. But we have to learn from it and challenge ourselves to be better

How often do you and Pep speak now and how has your relationship with him changed?

It had to change. My admiration and what I feel for him certainly hasn’t. In my opinion he’s the best coach in the world by a mile and he’s one of the nicest people that I’ve met in football. Certainly he’s one of the ones that I’ve had the most fun and laughter working with. That’s gonna stay there forever. At the moment the rules are what they are and you’re going to have to adapt to it.

There must be certain topics you can’t speak about now?

For sure not. It’s what it is. That happens the same with players though. I had some teammates here and then you become a coach and that relationship has to be adapted. You cannot feel different about the person, but professionally you have to act differently.

What did you make of the Ben White situation?

I think he has received a lot of love. You just have to see what his teammates and everyone in football thinks of him especially the ones who have been close to him. I think people have respected his decision. Hopefully he’s prepared to represent his country in the best way possible one day. But that’s completely up to him.

Can you clarify what happened?

No, that’s a question for him and he’s the one to answer that.

What lessons did you take from defeat at City last season?

The level that we’re facing and where we want to be. You have to make strong steps to be there and I think we’ve done big ones in recent seasons. We’re getting much closer and now it’s how we close that gap and try to be better than them.

City have suffered five defeats this season – two of which are against Arsenal. How proud does that make you?

That’s great but that’s the competition. Same with Liverpool. They’ve earned the right to be considered an example. What they’ve done has been phenomenal to do what they have done consistently in this league. They have raised our standards and our demands to try to be like them and to beat them.

What is it like being in the title race for you?

I was just watching everybody walking in the building and I loved the energy, I loved their smiles and they were glad to be back. They wanted to train yesterday and the way they communicate and relate with each other every day is phenomenal. We have done a lot to be in the position that we are, but we need to go day by day, train well, prepare every match. We’ve done a lot to be where we are now we have to embrace that position and go for it.

Is this the most confident you’ve been taking a side to the Etihad Stadium?

I have full belief and trust in my players and what we’re trying to do. It’s something that we have to show on the pitch.

Were you surprised about how publicly Gareth Southgate spoke about Ben White?

I don’t know. That’s something between them. I don’t know what they’ve agreed, or spoken about. That’s between them.

Does it make it more special to be up against Pep in these title races?

Probably I would prefer to do it against someone who I don’t have those feelings for but that’s not a choice. It’s what it is. We both want to win. We’ll prepare the game very well.

Did he get you anything for your birthday?

No he didn’t.

It’s a big game for the women’s team this weekend too. It could be huge for the club…

Yes it’s a big weekend for the club. We wish them all the best for the final. I heard that they’re going to get a lot of support as well so that’s great news.

Is Pep best in world because he innovates?

One is that and then I know the passion that he lives the game, the intelligence, the way that he handles the team as well and the club, how demanding he is – and then he has an incredible work ethic. That’s something people don’t see, but there is a lot of work behind the scenes and he has managed to do it for three different clubs at the top, elite level, every single season. That’s a huge quality.

Is it your hope Ben White plays for England again?

As manager I want the best for him, personally and professionally, and he really needs to feel it. And if one day he does, and that’s the case, then yeah, I think that would be the best option for everybody. But you have to respect that.

It’s the first in a tough run of away games for your team. What’s the secret to your good away form this year?

The secret I don’t know. It’s probably trying to play away like we do at home and to have that belief and aggression in our play. We have to play every team twice and we know the fixtures that we have and we’re looking forward to it.

How did you make the players believe they could win away given their poor record before you arrived?

I think that belief comes from winning. You start to win in one ground where you haven’t won for many years. Then you do it somewhere else and it gives you belief and momentum. Now they approach away games very similar to home games. You cannot replicate it, but mentally the purpose that we play with is very similar.

Does that momentum put you in a better place to beat City than before?

Let’s hope so. It is different actually the previous game we went there and this season. Now I hope we can show that on the pitch.

Will it affect the quality of the break that it’s come after the international break?

Good question. I don’t know. Hopefully from our side not and we can maintain what we’re doing and be at our best.

Do you think the March international break should be looked at in terms of where it comes in the season?

I think that in general the whole calendar has to be looked at because there are a lot of games. That’s a topic that we all know and it doesn’t look like we’re going to affect it in the right way. You see a lot of players and a lot of games in this international break with different circumstances.

How much negotiating do you do with national teams over the international break?

We try to have the best possible communication with the national teams, but at the end they have the capacity to select the players and use them how they feel. I always feel that they want to protect the players, but it’s true that they have their own priorities and pressures as well. I will never get into the position to tell them what to do. You can tell them your opinion and how players are feeling but then it’s entirely up to them.

 

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