Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is well aware of the challenges that his side face this season, especially in the Premier League. Alas, that’ll have to be pushed to one side tonight as the club go head to head with Rapid Wien in the UEFA Europa League. Prior to the game tonight Arteta has spoken with the media as the Gunners once again go in search of UEL glory in their relentless pursuit of a return to the top table of European competition. Whether or not this team can take the next step, though, remains to be seen.
On where the Europa League ranks in his priorities:
We are very excited to be playing back in Europe again after a difficult season where we had to earn our right to play here through winning the FA Cup. It’s a big bonus for us. We want to make the best out of it and every competition that we are involved in. Our aim is to try to win it.
On rumours around a European Super League:
I don’t know, it’s like a new format is coming out every three or four days. I think there will be more coming out very soon. Again, I ask for some unity here, to defend the interest of everybody like it’s been the case in the UK. I think that has made this league so unique. These things have to evolve in one way or another, but let’s try to do it together to find the right solution.
On whether this squad can compete in the Europa League and Premier League:
Time will tell. Depending on what happens and this COVID situation, depending on the injuries… I believe we have the squad to try and fight till the last moment, and the passion. What we’re looking for in this competition is to go as far as possible and win it.
On whether Runarsson will play:
I cannot tell you the line-up for tomorrow, I’m sorry.
On the strength of the squad:
We had one or two issues as you know against City with a few players missing out but the rest are okay. We have Musti back after a long injury. He’s done really well and he looks fit to play, so we still have a big squad. We have 21 players here and we will make the decision tomorrow who starts.
On what difference it will make playing in front of fans again:
I don’t know, I think it is going to be really nice. It will be strange, but finally we are going to have some people there watching us who are not just the people working around us on a daily basis. It is an experience, let’s see how we feel it but it is a very positive thing.
On whether Thomas Partey will play:
He reacted really well, he came on and look strong and confident [against Man City] and he added something positive to the team. It was a very short turnaround for him since he joined the team, he had a day, a day-and-a-half only in training. He has done a few more training sessions and he looks ready to start.
On whether the fans need it clarified or the board needs to clarify it:
It is good that you make those questions so I can answer what my feelings are and the reality of the situation.
On whether the likes of Nelson, Smith Rowe and Willock will play for the under-23s more:
We believe that they were three players who needed some minutes, especially with the international break they didn’t have the chance to play for their countries, so it was almost a three or four week gap without a game and we want everyone to be in a good rhythm. They were very positive about it and they had a really good performance, which is good because we have everybody more prepared to compete when they have the opportunity.
On the importance of qualifying for the Europa League:
Yes, because we know that this club has to aim for every competition and we have to be involved in European competition, so let’s start tomorrow. It will be tough. You haven’t asked too many questions about the game and I am worried, because I have seen from Rapid, they look a strong and dangerous side, so we better be prepared tomorrow.
On whether they have set takers for set pieces now:
We are going to have a few fights, but there is a gameplay on the set pieces obviously! There is an order we have to try to respect as much as possible, but the players have to make the decisions on the pitch about how they feel and the confidence level they have to execute an action like this.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
Will Arsenal pick up all three points tonight?