Thursday, February 29, 2024

Every word of Mikel Arteta’s pre-Luton presser

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Mikel Arteta held his pre-Luton Town press conference at London Colney on Monday afternoon.

The boss was asked about Takehiro Tomiyasu’s injury, Bukayo Saka’s upcoming 200th Arsenal appearance, the challenge of facing Luton for the first time since 1991 and more.

Here’s everything he had to say on the following subjects…

on Tomiyasu’s injury:
We assessed him after the game, we took him off as a precaution so we’ll wait. Whether it’s useful to use him or not, we will decide tomorrow. He’s a strong boy and hopefully he’ll be fine.

on Ben White being able to deputise if need be:
After his injury and the way we decided to manage his load, he’s feeling perfect and back to fitness. He played some minutes and he’s now in a good place.

on our last 14 goals being spread across nine players:
It’s really good, that means that the team has goals. They come from different places and that makes it more unpredictable and the players are eager to score as well. Last year we had something very similar to that, we shared the goals in a great way and we have to continue to do that.

on Bukayo Saka reaching 200 appearances:
That’s not bad at his age! It’s gone really fast but it shows again the consistency and the availability that he has had over the last few years. It has been tremendous and the impact that he’s had in the team has been really positive.

on the test of playing at Kenilworth Road:
I would say it is an inspiring place. I think what they’ve done is remarkable with what Rob did with the team last year, the way they did it and what they transmitted as a team. We are neighbours and we’re always very close to here so it’s just an amazing story. They fully deserve all the credit they are getting, from last year as well as the way they are playing this season. Some of the results that they have got and in the games that they’ve played, they’ve been extremely close so tomorrow we’re going to have a really intense and difficult match.

on his relationship with Rob Edwards:
He’s a great coach and a really special person as well. You can tell the way he coaches his team and the way his team behaves and I’m very happy for him and what he’s doing. We’ve stayed in touch because he was at Watford not long ago so we’ve been pretty close.

on Pep Guardiola’s post-match interview:
Onto the next one please – I have enough in my garden and on my plate!

on if Luton are a better team than their position in the table suggests:
I think they are a really good team and probably the table does not reflect what they have done in many games. The way they have lost games or drew games as well in five minutes during the final stages of games. As I say, it probably doesn’t reflect that, but it’s a difficult game, that’s for sure.

on facing a team he hasn’t come across before:
It’s inspiring, and as well to play there is going to be something different, and we’ve already discussed that with the players. But really positive too, that’s the tradition of English football, our league. They haven’t been in the league for a long, long time and I think Arsenal hasn’t played against them for a long, long time, so it’s a good evening.

on none of our team against Wolves being born when Arsenal last played Luton in 1991:
But we are (old)! It’s incredible the way Luton have done it, the frustrations they had, it’s an example to any club in the Premier League, to give hope as well that any club is able to do something extraordinary like this. It’s a beautiful story.

on what to expect about the atmosphere at Kenilworth Road:
They know. We have already warned them, they know what to expect. They know about the atmosphere and they know about the access. They know everything, and especially they have to know about the team that they have to face tomorrow and the difficulties we are going to have to play against them, and as well what the opportunities are for us to win the game. 

on what Saka has been like throughout his development under Mikel:
It’s like watching a kid raise, and get older, mature and evolve. And he still has the same humility and willingness to get better and better and get to know the people close to him in his life, and the impact they have on him. All the academy people who worked with him as well over the years to make him the player he is today, they have to take a huge compliment of who Bukayo is today. And then let him be. Bukayo is a special guy, we have him with us hopefully for many years to come.

on if there are limits to how far he can go:
At the moment no because he hasn’t got any limits and he wants more and the people around him want more. His teammates are having a better understanding of what he needs as well. He has coaches, staff and a club that wants to push him to become better. I think it’s a good context for him to keep growing.

on Zinchenko’s error on Saturday and if he has no problem with playing him on Tuesday:
He created so many chances as well, he provided a goal you know. This is a part of football, we all make mistakes and it’s not only about that. It’s about how you react on top of that. There are other things that happened after that that can be done better as well so not at all.

on if we’re better than we were at this time last year:
I don’t know, it’s different. The league is different as well. The level has gone another level up and you can see it. I was watching a lot of games yesterday afternoon and it’s incredible how game state changes and momentum changes in games. The quality the opponents have, the quality of the managers… it’s a really really tough league and we don’t know how it’s going to continue but at the moment we are in a good place and tomorrow we want to be in a better place. To do that, we’re going to have to play really well tomorrow.

on the chance to open up a gap at the top of the league and if we’re better placed to win the league this season:
I don’t think about that, I think about how we’re going to play better tomorrow and be more consistent and more difficult to beat. The things that have to tweak and how we can use our players in the best possible way to win. It’s still a huge marathon ahead of us.

on Manchester City drawing three in a row and if we take encouragement from that:
Encouragement? No. Encouragement comes from watching my team play and watching how they behave every single day, how hungry and willing they are to play every single game, the way they approach every single training session. That’s what gives me encouragement. What the others do is something we cannot control.

on if there is a drop off from City this season:
I don’t look at those things. I have enough looking at my team.

on if he would get into mind games with Pep:
If I am good at mind games, maybe you don’t notice!

Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.

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