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Arteta on… Fulham, the new season, squad balance | Press conference | News

Mikel Arteta was back in front of the media on Friday as he looked ahead to our opening Premier League match of the season at Fulham.

Our manager discussed his squad, Alex Lacazette, Matteo Guendouzi and more.
 
Read on for a full transcript:
 
on first press conference as first-team manager…
My title has changed a little bit but I’m just here to try and do my job as well as possible. It is always nice to be recognised from the club for the job that I try to do but I just want to help the club to do the right things. When I have to be involved, great. When I work in any area, great. I just want to make this club more successful in this country as quickly as possible and in a sustainable way. That’s my ambition. It’s our ambition and we have to do it together.

on our summer transfer window and team development…
Well, it’s been a very strange mini-pre-season with a lot of external factors that are difficult to control. I think today is the first day that we have the full squad training together for pre-season. Just a day before we play the first game, but we have tried to put in the work that we needed, obviously without some key players for different reasons. Towards the market and our squad, obviously, we bought Willian and Gabriel. They’re two really good recruitments in my opinion and two players that are going to improve our squad, but it’s been a very complicated market so far.

on if formation plans will change against Fulham with David Luiz and Sokratis out…
We have a few issues around the squad. That’s something normal that we have to try to adapt to. We’ve been trying with the players that we have fit at the moment. It’s not an ideal to start the season with some key players out but again, we have enough really good players and tomorrow we will have the best possible plan to try and win our first game.

on if Gabriel and Willian will start v Fulham…
They have been training really well. They have adapted quickly. They are really excited to be here with us, really good energy from both of them. Big talent, both in very different phases of their career. One is already very established in the Premier League with incredible quality. And another one that has to adapt to this league but has huge potential to become a key player for us in the future.

on what Mikel is expecting from Fulham…
I think the team is a good reflection of the coach. He’s a very thorough person with a very committed team with a very clear way of playing. He’s done a fantastic job at Fulham, the way they managed to get promoted last season was really good. We have been watching them, we know it’s a very typical stadium, really tight. It will be tough tomorrow, for sure.

on Aubameyang signing a new contract…
I can say that I am even more confident than I was at the end of last season when you asked me the same question 10 times.

on if it will be done soon…
I am very optimistic, yes.

on what Mikel has seen from the players since the end of last season…
What I’ve seen from them is that they want more. They are not satisfied. This is what we want to show tomorrow, that we want to go another step forward. What we’ve done doesn’t count for anything. Obviously it gives us confidence and belief in what we can do and the way we can compete against any team. This is a completely different competition, it’s a long race and we have to be consistent. It is a big gap from what’s happened in the last few seasons and the reason why we were out of the Champions League spots. This is our challenge for the season.

on the future of Mesut Ozil and Emi Martinez…
We have some really good players in many different positions. Some of them are complicated and obviously, clubs come to us and they are interested in our players. It is very difficult to promise players game time or to be the first choice. It is part of this period in the market. We try to manage the situation as well as we can, all the time counting on what the players’ expectations are, what we can achieve with them as a club and we are making decisions towards that.
 
on his thoughts on the dropping of the Black Lives Matter logo from Premier League signage…
Well, I think it’s a cause that’s had a massive impact and we will be very supportive with it. We have to continue to do that as much as possible every time something happens in a social environment that we can change.

on whether any Arsenal staff and players will continue to take the knee…
I think it’s an individual decision and how you feel about it, but I think the way we have conducted ourselves is not an individual thing. I like more the collective things.

on whether there is an update on Ozil…
There aren’t any updates. All of the players that we have here are available here and they have a contract with Arsenal. They have all been training and putting in maximum effort in every training session and this is what I expect from all of them.

on how he reflects on his nine months with the club so far…
Well, I look 10 years older I think because it’s been really challenging! Obviously it was my first job as a head coach and a lot of things happened with a lot of interruptions and a lot of unexpected things, but we all together have been very consistent in what we’re trying to achieve and we all feel really supported by each other. There have been a lot of changes in our club and a lot of changes in our environment, but our idea and direction isn’t going to change and we’re aiming to achieve that. I think we have created some belief and that’s really important for the players, the staff and as well our fans. Now our aim is to continue to do that and to keep building and to keep getting engaged to this process to make it better and better.

on whether Arsenal had a weak mentality and if that’s gone now…
I don’t know. We have to show it and in football in the last few months it doesn’t really count, we have to show what we’re about tomorrow and how we start, how we look and how committed we are. It’s about how much we can maintain our consistency to be one of the best teams in the country.

on whether Arsenal fans should be worried about Aubameyang signing or not…
I think they can be pretty relaxed.

on whether Martinez could leave the club…
Again, I cannot stop all the speculation that we have about all our players coming in and out. I don’t want to comment on any individuals at the moment without having the right answers to give.

on why Ljungberg left the club and whether he will be making any more changes…
Well, the situation with Freddie was very clear about his ambitions and his next step in his career. He’s been really supportive for us and he was a person that was helpful in the first few months trying to find out about the squad and what happened in the past. Obviously that left a gap that we had to fill and I had some people in mind before I joined that I couldn’t bring in. We can now start to become a little more detailed and improve in some key areas in my opinion. That’s why we brought them in.

on whether we’re close to getting the ‘old Arsenal’ back…
I think it’s premature as well, depending on how ‘old’ the Arsenal is that we’re talking about, for example the Invincibles. It’s great that we were able to win trophies and we’ve changed quite a lot of things at the club, certainly things look brighter, but there is still a long way to go and the gap that I talked about is still there. We have to make sure we reduce that this season as much as possible.

on whether his new role brings about more expectation for success…
I think responsibility and pressure is always linked. I’m really grateful for the faith and commitment that the club is showing towards me and I’m just trying to do my job as good as possible to bring this club as quick as possible and efficiently back to the top in a sustainable way. This is my aim and the players and the people working in this organisation enjoy and feel really connected to this football club, the same as our fans. Whatever I have to do in order to achieve that, I will put all the hours, plus my commitment and passion to achieve that.

on whether people will be expecting more from Arsenal…
Every new season brings new expectations and I think the way we ended last season and started this one with a title, obviously people want to see more and more and this is a really positive sign. We want this type of energy to drive our team forward and tomorrow we have a great test at Fulham in a very English stadium against a promoted team who will be very ready and focused to try and beat us.
 
on whether the player who starts in goal at Fulham will be our No 1…
No, I don’t treat the goalkeeping position any differently to the others. I think the one that in my opinion is training better with the goalkeeping coach has the better chance to start tomorrow and my decision will be consistent like that throughout this season.
 
on whether whoever starts it will be their position to lose…
Exactly, and then its for the other one to push and make him better and when his chance comes, be ready and help the team as they both did last season. Both were fantastic in my opinion.
 
on whether he’s spoken to Alex Lacazette about his future…
H is really happy here, he wants to keep improving and contributing to the team. I know how good he is, the impact he is having. He knows about the competition he has with the front players, and again he needs to demand of himself to be the best striker at this football club, the same as the rest. He was very happy to hear that and the way he has been training and conducting himself has been excellent.
 
on whether Laca has said that he wants to stay…
Yes, I think he is very happy here. That is my feeling and what I got from that message.
 
on if the situation has changed with Guendouzi…
Matteo has been training like any other player in the squad. It is a new season and we had some really positive conversations between both parties, now he’s back with the group, he is training really well, he went to France to play with the under-21s last week and played really well again, and he is here.
 
on speculation about Geundouzi being offered in part exchange…
I don’t know, I am not going to discuss here what the things that happened internally. But a lot of the things they have been writing, I can tell you they are not true.
 
on links with Aouar at Lyon…
I don’t want to talk about players at other clubs that are not our players.
 
on whether he wants one or two more signings…
We are still active in the market, we are looking at different options. I would say we are active in the market for players in and out, at the moment the squad balance is not the ideal we want to achieve so there is still some work to do. We have to bear in mind the complication with this transfer market and the complexity and the timing, because you can see that clubs are behaving in many different ways and it is a little bit uncertain how this will work in the next few weeks.
 
on how the squad is imbalanced…
Firstly number-wise. Some positions are overbooked, I said some others, in terms of specific qualities that we need, they are still not there. It is going to be very difficult to achieve what we want in one window or two windows. It is a process, it has to evolve and most importantly it has to be a sustainable model that we can consistently feed in using our academy players.
 
on whether it will be a while until it is ‘his’ squad…
I think so,  but that is always the case. Then there are some other times with positive surprises where people give you a more positive impression than you thought as well as some more negative ones. It is a constant evolution and it has to be assessed all the time and you have to have a very clear direction of what you want to achieve and what is your ideal. Even when you have that, you have to stop and feed it all the time.

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