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Arteta on Liverpool, Auba, Willian: transcript | Press conference | News

Mikel Arteta was up in front of the media on Friday as he previewed our next Premier League game – a trip to Anfield to face the champions.

Our manager was asked about the challenge, Nicolas Pepe, transfers and more.
 
Read on for a full transcript:
 
on whether having no fans in the ground at Anfield will help Arsenal…
I think obviously the crowd makes them stronger because it is a unique atmosphere they are able to create at Anfield. As well you are able to see how well they are playing without any crowds as well, so we know the challenge ahead of us, so let’s embrace it, let’s go for it, prepare well and try to go there and win.
 
on how much confidence we take from our last two performances against Liverpool…
They are all very different games, the one we played at the Emirates and the one we played the in final were very different, and I think it will be different again [on Monday night]. We know the standards that they have set in this league, how consistent they have been and that is because they dominate almost every aspect of the game. So we need to be at our best, we need to compete really well against this team and hopefully the boys are able to do that on Monday.
 
on how the game will be different…
They were really different, the one at the Emirates and the one we played in the final against against them. They have some variability depending on what they do, how we have to control those aspects, how we can attack in different ways as well. It is like quick waves all the time with them, without much time to breathe. It is a really quick game, it doesn’t see long sequences of passes against them. We had to be at our best, that’s for sure.
 
on what he has been working on with the team since the West Ham game…
Obviously I’m not going to discuss that, but we had some time to work and tried to prepare better. But every game brings different challenges and in this league every opponent causes you issues you have to resolve. We are evolving, we are getting much better and on Wednesday already we did a lot of things much better in the same aspects, so we need to keep improving.
 
on the latest on Lucas Torreira…
No, we don’t have any updates on Lucas or any other player at the moment.
 
on being linked with Jorginho at Chelsea…
We are still open to improve our team, we are looking for different options depending on what happens with some of our players here so we are getting prepared just in case we need to do something.
 
on what potential qualities he sees in Jorginho…
Sorry, but I cannot talk about players that play for a different team. [Discussing] their qualities is not appropriate from my side.

on how hard is it facing the same opponent twice in a week…
It is normally difficult enough to play the same team in four days and for the players as well to adapt. Obviously, the first game has a big impact on the second one and it is really tough to beat the same opponent twice in that short period. When you talk about Liverpool that challenge is much bigger but I just want to focus on Monday. Let’s try to get the best possible preparation against them, go there, and most importantly have the belief that we can go there and win. We all have to believe that we are capable of doing that.

on the importance of starting the game on the front foot…
Yes, it is really important to start well but it is also really important what happens after 20, 30, 80, 90 minutes because they’re a team that are really consistent in their performances. They are able to constrain the opponent to do very little against them and they can dominate long periods of games. You have to be able, when you have the right opportunities and the right moments, to be ruthless – you have to do that. As well, you have to suffer for periods because you know and you have to expect that they’re going to have the experience.

on when fans will return to the stadium…
I don’t know. Obviously, with the news and the new guidelines given by the government it’s not looking very positive in the next few months and we have to bear in mind the situation we have in our society. We have to respect that and I think we’re all trying to create a safe environment. It’s in the interest of everybody, first of all the Premier League to keep playing. I think we have achieved really good standards at the moment and have kept the positive [tests] really really low. That’s the first aim, obviously we can get the fans back in here, it will be great for the football world as well.
 
on Eddie Nketiah and whether he thinks he could get an England call-up…
Well, I don’t know. Obviously if he keeps performing in the way he has been with us in the last few months he will have a really good chance and as well, I think culturally, England and the actual manager are really brave with young kids. It’s up to them, they have to be consistent and keep doing what they’re doing at club level and then that opportunity will come in a natural way.

on what he thinks Liverpool’s weakness is…
I think they are getting better and better and they have less weaknesses. They are a fantastic side. The issue with the weaknesses of opponents is how many you are able to exploit and how many opportunities you get to do that. With all the incredible things that they have, you know that they are going to try and still be able to do them. So I want to focus on what we can do and what we have to do and control our own aspects.

on the need to be ruthless on Monday…
You know, in big games like that, every detail is really important to get a win. We have to dominate a lot of aspects in the game and how we manage the game in certain aspects as well. When we have our opportunities, we have to put them in the net.

on whether he tried to sign Thiago…
We don’t discuss the things that we try to do in the market.

on whether he’s a player he admires…
Yeah, I really like him from my time that I was in Barcelona as well. A player with incredible personality, great talent, very special qualities to play in midfield. I think he’s a great signing for Liverpool.

on the importance of winning away to a top-six club…
We want consistent results. We have to be able to go to any ground and get the points, and live with that belief. We’ll try to do that on Monday.

on Nicolas Pepe…
I think he’s come a long way. We know what the club paid for him when he joined and that was obviously an extra pressure but he’s a player who’s had to adapt, it’s a different style. He has a really good attitude. We can see develops in a lot of phases of his game. He’s very settled here, he’s like by the boys, he’s a really good character to have around and I’m really positive that we’re going to have him for many years and that he can perform at a really high level consistently.

on him helping Gabriel and vice-versa…
I think it’s always nice for them to have some compatriots next to them, it obviously makes things a lot easier in the first few months when they cannot speak the language. I think for both of them they know each other and they’ve spent some time together now. I think it’s a positive thing.
 
on how key Willian’s big-game experience will be…
For me it’s much more important that the overall mindset of the team is right and they have the actual belief that when we get on that plane to go to Liverpool, that we can go there to win. If we all have that, we’re going to have a much better chance to perform at our highest and have the opportunity to grab the points.

on whether they believe in themselves more than when he arrived…
I haven’t been to Anfield with them yet but I’m expecting that every ground we go to, we’re going to prepare for the game to win and that they realise they are good enough to do that. Obviously that has to be by an incredible performance individually and collectively. We need to manage every detail the game requires.

on Auba and Laca’s understanding…
I think the front players need to create a certain chemistry between them and that feeling that when they look at each other in the eyes, they understand each other, they communicate on the pitch to see what they are feeling. I think we are getting that with them at the moment. Not only them, but with Willian as well and the way he’s come in the team straight away. With Pepe, Bukayo – when he’s playing there – and with Reiss. It’s really important, it’s something we try to promote in training as well. Hopefully they can keep linking and improving those relationships between them.

on how concerned he is with lack of finances for those further down football’s pyramid…
I think the club is playing without the fans and financially the implications that has, how that can still be sustainable, the things we have to achieve as a team to try to improve those finances as well. I think it’s crucial for every club that this doesn’t have too much of a delay because then the challenge ahead is brutal.

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