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‘Everyone gives their best now, even the kit man!’ | Interview | News

Promising debuts for Gabriel and Willian, the risk he had to take with our new Brazilian defender, and his demands to the players this season.

All of that and more were on the agenda when Mikel Arteta sat down for his post-match ‘virtual’ press conference at Craven Cottage.
 
Here’s a full transcript:
 
on Gabriel and Willian…
Yeah, they were both really good. Obviously for Willian it’s a little bit different because he knows the league, the country and he’s very settled here, so I knew his performances would happen straight away. With Gabriel it was a big challenge for him to come in today having not played any football for the last six months and he had a terrific performance.

on whether he would have preferred to give Gabriel a few weeks before making his debut…
Ideally I wanted to give him some time because he’s only trained a few days with the team and physically he hasn’t played a competitive match in six months, so obviously there was a risk of injury as well, but credit to him because he performed really well physically, he felt good and he was a handful today.

on Ceballos and Nketiah clashing in the warm-up…
I haven’t seen anything. I was inside.

on whether the signing of Willian will motivate Pepe…
Well, it’s not for Nico, I think it’s for the players that were today on the bench and as well the ones that we had to leave at home. If they raise their levels then the performances of the team and club are going to improve and this is what I demand from them. I’m really happy with all the boys and the way they’re training, but selection is getting more complicated and with this new rule of just having only 18 players in the squad makes it very difficult.
 
on a perfect opening-day result and performance…
Yes I don’t think it gets much better than that. I think it’s really good for the players, for their confidence, for their belief, and to settle in the group quickly. It’s always a challenge when you bring in new players but the way they played today and the commitment they showed with the boys, it was terrific.

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