Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has taken the time to speak with the media ahead of tonight’s clash with Aston Villa which will determine whether or not they’re still in with a chance of finishing in the top seven. If they do finish in the top seven, and they lose in the FA Cup final, they’ll still qualify for the UEFA Europa League next season based on their league position.
On facing Aston Villa and the fact they have to fight for survival:
Absolutely. They have a massive urgency because they probably have to win both games to have a chance to survive. When you are in that situation you are fighting for your life, so they are going to give absolutely everything. We have to be in the same mood. We still have to win both games and wait to have a chance to qualify for Europe and that’s the mood that I want from everybody involved.
On the team’s availability:
We are assessing Mustafi after he had to come off, because he felt something in his hamstring. So we have to see how he is in the next few days. The rest are okay. We will get Eddie Nketiah back from suspension and Cedric back because he was cup-tied and the rest, I don’t know. I have to see them today and see how they recover because they played a lot of minutes in the last few games and I’ll pick the team again that can go and beat Villa.
On how he’s feeling ahead of the final two league games:
I wanted to get to this point with options and clearly, we have options. It’s not in our hands at the moment and we knew that was going to be difficult, but we need to give it a go and try to win both games and then wait and see what happens. If we do that, I think we will have a good chance.
On whether the cup final will impact on squad rotation:
We’ve been changing quite a lot in the last few games because the schedule that we had was pretty hectic and because everybody has been training so well and very involved. They needed opportunities and they’re making me doubt all the time because they are performing well.
On whether Mesut Ozil is likely to play against Aston Villa:
Mesut is training at the moment.
On whether that means he is likely to be involved:
Like every player that is training.
On being unclear on whether Ozil will be involved:
Because I have to pick from 23 or 24 players to do the squad. I will do that this afternoon.
On Aston Villa:
In my opinion, they have been very unlucky in a lot of games. It’s a team that wants to play football, that makes it really difficult for their opponent when they have the ball. I think the fans not being in the ground, which is one of my favourites in England, is a big disadvantage for them.We really need to be careful that they are alive and you can see that in the last few games that I’ve watched of them. We better be ready.
On how far can we go if the players stick to the direction we’re going:
All credit goes to the players for the way they’ve been performing and the way they’ve been believing in what we are trying to do. Obviously this is a marathon, this is a long-term thing that has to be played and you have to do it consistently for 10 months. It’s not good enough to just do it for a week so we haven’t done anything, just won two games that give us a big plus in the league and the sense that if we are all doing our best we can beat any team but now we have to be consistent and do it every three days.
On if he needs financial backing in the summer like Chelsea have been:
First of all I think Frank is doing a really good job, he took a difficult situation after the ban that they had and obviously that context is different to ours. I am happy to see him do so well and I look forward to facing him in the final and I know the challenge will be difficult for both. I am very happy with the environment that I’ve had, with the communication that I have with the people at the club and with the plan we are putting together.
On whether it helps to have less on the Villa game than them:
I don’t want that mindset, I’m sorry. It does matter to us and a lot because I want to win ball games like they do, and I want to play football with that urgency and aggression in our game.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
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