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Arteta on… Elneny, Willock, Molde and more | Press conference | News

Mikel Arteta was at London Colney on Wednesday as he held a virtual press conference ahead of our Europa League clash with Molde.

Our manager discussed the win at Manchester United, Mo Elneny, our Norwegian opponents and more.
 
Read on for a full transcript:
 
on David Luiz’s fitness….
He is available, he has been training well over the past few days so he will be involved in the squad.
 
on whether Lacazette could start…
I am tempted with all of them with the way I see them train, but we will make that decision tomorrow.
 
on Elneny…
I think he is responding really well to all the challenges we are putting in front of him. He had a big one when he came back from his loan spell to show what he could bring to the squad and I think everyone has seen what he can do, so I am really pleased with his performances and what he brings to the team.
 
on whether Elneny could get a new contract…
Let’s go step by step please! What I can say is that I am really pleased with the player and everything that he is doing and hopefully he can continue like that and perform rally well throughout the season.
 
on whether he has one team for the PL and another for the EL…
Well, it’s not like that and tomorrow you will see some changes again. I believe we have to manage over time the minutes and exposure that we give to the players with the amount of games that we have now, and also in the International break they play three games, then until March we are playing every three or four days. So we have to think what we need at the present and mid-term as well a bit because it is going to get really, really condensed.
 
on the praise Tony Adams has given him…
Obviously we have to take confidence and motivation from legends of the football club and what they say, their opinions, things that they see and what we are able to transmit to these people who have been involved and who are now as a club. Thank you so much or their support. Obviously it is pleasant to see that they feel that way with what we are trying to, and as well I know how much we have to do to get to the level that we all want and they were at in the past. That’s the challenge we have in front of us.
 
on how big the win at Man United was for confidence…
Yes, obviously we needed that because we were really disappointed with the result against Leicester, considering how the game went. But to see the reaction of the team in such a stadium, with the history we have in terms of results playing at Old Trafford, and then the courage – I said before the game and after the game that I wanted to see the game playing with courage, being us, and I think we were us from the first minute. To get a big result there is obviously always a big plus in terms of confidence and belief and now it is about being consistent and doing it again three days later.
 
on how realistic it is to fight for every trophy this season…
That’s a tough question to answer. I think now we have the numbers to do that. I think we can rotate players. I think we have enough players in the squad to be able to maintain a really competitive squad. We’re playing every three or four days at the moment and you start to get injuries, suspensions and whatever comes is going to get more and more complicated. This is our obligation, to try to compete in every competition and we’re going to be trying to do that until the end. Obviously, the circumstances will dictate how well we can do that.

on if this is his team now and all its success is down to him…
No, it’s down to the players on how they perform and what they are able to achieve and do on the football pitch. I’m just here, another piece around the club to help them achieve as much as possible. To give them confidence, to pass onto them my idea of how we have to play, how we have to live together, how I understand this profession and I know how complicated it is. It’s been almost 11 months, almost four of them sitting at home, for the first job I think it’s very special circumstances and I think we have tried to manage it in the best possible way.

on the strengths and weaknesses of Modle…
Their strengths are that they work really well as a team. They are a really strong, physical team. They are really well organised. I would say defensively, they are really hard to beat when they get in this middle-low block. They have some creative players who are dangerous int he final third and they’re a real threat on set-pieces as well. The table now is really tight, we’ve both won both games so it will probably the most difficult game that we’ve played so far in the competition.

on if Arsenal and Molde are the two favourite teams to progress….
I don’t know. It’s only two games in, things can change a lot in the next fixtures. Obviously, we are at home, we have the possibility to go in front on our own. We want to finish first and I guess get into the next Europa stage as quickly as we can. I know in order to do that we have to beat them tomorrow.

on the new generation of Norwegian Players…
Normally when you see this type of talent come in continually, it is not a coincidence. A lot of things have been done really well in the last few years. I’ve heard that there has been a lot of changes throughout academies, the national team, investment in coaching facilities as well around the country. You can see that coming though, I think the league is much more competitive now, it’s much better and that brings better quality players and more prepared players to compete in different leagues around Europe. Congratulations to them because I think they’re doing a very good job.
 
on Norwegian football…
Normally when you see this type of talent continuously, it’s not a coincidence. A lot of things have been done really well in the last few years and I’ve heard that there has been a lot of changes throughout academies, national teams, investment in coaches and facilities as well around the country. You can see that coming through. I think the league is much more competitive now, it’s much better, and that brings better quality players and more prepared players to compete in different leagues around Europe. Congratulations to them because I think they’re going a really good job.

on which Norwegian players he’s noticed…
I cannot talk about individual players. You mentioned some really good ones [Haaland and Odegaard] already, so you know.

on whether he spoke to Solskjaer about Molde…
No, normally before these games you don’t have time to talk much. Normally to talk about the next opponent is impossible.

on Molde’s first two UEL games…
They have managed to win both of them and not without difficulties, as you saw in the games that I’ve seen as well. But they found a way to win them both, they will be really competitive and I expect them to be tough tomorrow, as they’ve been in the last two games they’ve played in the competition so far. We have to be ready because it won’t be easy.

on Molde’s biggest offensive threat…
I just mentioned to your colleague that they have some creative players in the final third. They are not scared and they have some really good rotation and patterns when they get into this position. If we allow them to cross the ball into the box, it will be difficult for us. I mention as well the set-pieces which I think is a key thing in the game.

on his message to the Arsenal fans ahead of a second lockdown…
The message to the fans is that I miss them a lot. With what we are trying to build here, I want them to be a big part of the feeling and the passion that we want to transmit as a football club. We haven’t been able to spend time with them and now they have to go and sit in their houses again. I think that increases our responsibility to give them some happiness in these moments where people are suffering, and mentally it’s a really tough period to go through. When we have the key of happiness, we have to make sure we give them that as much as we possibly can. My message to them is that we will try our best all the time to bring that job, even if it’s only for 96 minutes or whatever it is, as consistently as we possibly can.

on his message to Joe Willock about breaking into his PL team…
I told my message to Joe. We considered a few options for him but he’s a player I really like. He has some special qualities that only he has in this squad, and that we have to use. I think you could see the last game he showed what he can do, to play in those pockets and to make runs into certain areas. He’s got the ability to make the box, his physicality and he’s grown in his understanding of the game and areas where he needs to be involved to affect the game. It’s growing all the time. I’m really happy with the way he’s evolving, he’s doing everything he can, so the fact he’s not playing more is because of the competition in those areas.
 
on reports suggesting that William Saliba is ‘fed up’ with the situation…
I’m fed up with the situation because as you could see, we tried to find a way in the last few days [of the transfer window] to give him some football. I explained that he needed that transition year when we decided to buy him and send him on loan to Saint-Etienne. For many reasons, that didn’t happen and he didn’t have that transition year. He needs to go through that and at the moment, with the amount of central defenders that we have in the team, we had to let him out of the squad which is painful. After that, we had some injuries and we could have used him but it’s part of this profession.

on if he thinks Saliba will go on loan in January instead…
Well, I don’t know. We certainly tried in the last few days of the transfer window to find the right club and we had him, but at the end of the day we could not make it and we will review the situation in the next few weeks and sit down with him as well and see what is the best thing to do. But it will depend on him and other players’ situations as well.

on how he’s resting and relaxing with games every few days…
At the moment, since I joined my new job, it’s not been the case because all the time we’ve had a lot of things going on and that’s it. So in the international break, if I can get one or two days, even if we cannot fly anywhere. At least we can spend some time and I can dedicate some time with my family as well and my kids. They need it and I can try to disconnect. But at the moment, it’s not an easy thing to do. But I don’t think that’s just for me, that’s for everybody else.

on whether his family are understanding…
They don’t have a choice! They are really supportive. We knew that when we accepted this challenge as a family that there are pros and cons as well, like in every decision that you make. You always have them, but I feel really privileged for the opportunity I have to manage this football club and they are fully supportive with me, which is an incredible thing to have.

on if management is becoming a younger man’s job…
I don’t know but when I used to play for Arsene as well – not just myself, but I think all of us – used to admire the capacity and the mental strength that you have to survive. Just to survive in this job for so long! When you talk about a club with these dimensions, to do it for over so many years is an incredible achievement and it shows the person and the character that you need to have to sustain and maintain with that level of pressure, the demands and energy that you need to keep doing the job the way that he did it.

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