While Arsenal may have been able to register an impressive win over rivals Chelsea at the weekend, that one success alone isn’t going to be enough to take the weight off the shoulders of Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard knows that he still needs to dig deep and produce some big results over the course of the next few weeks, because if he doesn’t, his future is very much still in jeopardy at the Emirates.
Before the upcoming game against Brighton & Hove Albion tonight, the Gunners boss took the time to preview the game.
On the young players and if it’s now difficult to leave them out:
Well, it’s not that we had to play them. We had enough senior players on the bench that could play. We decided to play them because they fully deserved to do that and now we have to manage the games, how everybody is recovering and what the game requires in relation to the opponent. We will see. They did really well against Chelsea, I’m really happy for them and let’s move on and see what the next game requires.
On whether the games against Brighton and West Brom are big opportunities to build positive momentum and move up the table:
Absolutely. We mentioned earlier in the week that it was a big week for us. We’ve started the week in a really positive way, now let’s carry on. But we know how tough the Premier League is and to win matches is complicated and it doesn’t matter where they are at the moment. It will be a fight and we have to be ready for that.
On what ending the winless run meant for him personally:
Obviously results-wise in the last few weeks, we’ve all been suffering. I’ve been suffering and I feel very responsible for that. The worst feeling is because I want to do so well for this football club and now, with the moment we are in, I want to bring all of my passion, the knowledge that I have and all the right intentions to move as quickly as we possibly can as a football club. In order to do that we have to win football matches to be stable and win some time and when I don’t, I feel that I am letting the club down and the people who work for us down and obviously our fans too. It’s draining, it’s frustrating and it’s painful. But at the same time, I know that we have to fight our way back and difficult moments are when you see the right people giving me a lot of encouragement, because I see people who are willing to fight with me and the people that we have here and then it gives me energy every day to carry on.
On whether it made him question himself:
Yes, I question myself every day. But since I arrived here, first of all I had to analyse really well what was happening, what we can and what we cannot do and I have adapted probably much more than I thought I would to suit the team because there are certain things that I think are much better for the qualities of the players that we have and other things that we are probably not prepared to do yet. Things will come out but obviously we have to adapt because at the end of the day we have to make life as simple, as clear and as efficient as possible for our players when they go onto that pitch.
On saying that he had ‘suffered’ in recent weeks and what he meant:
Externally as well it’s been very challenging with different issues coming up with one player or one staff and a lot of issues that they’ve been going through. Then when results hit you like that, you can sometimes not find the right reasons to understand why we are losing football matches when we produce what we produce, it’s a big headache but it’s the beauty of this game when you find ways of doing things in a different way. As well, my responsibility is to motivate the players as much as possible and keep them united and keep the team spirit alive even when we are not winning football matches. Obviously that is not an easy thing to do and requires a lot of energy and sometimes when you are frustrated and sad, you have to find other time somewhere to do that and for me it’s been my family and all the people that are involved here with me in the club, the board and Edu and they have all been super supportive. That has helped me a lot.
On whether he now feels he knows the difference between being a manager and being an assistant:
I knew because for four seasons I’ve been with, in my opinion, the best coach in the world and I know how much he suffered because every day I was so close with him. Even when you win, there are always things going on and I knew when I took charge that this is a tough job. But I have to say as well, I love it. It’s my decision to be here and I could not be any prouder.
On if he saw a blueprint in the Chelsea game that he can use moving forward:
Yes. I’ve seen a lot of things that I really liked from the start. One of them is the courage that we have to play and the energy that we showed and how aggressive we were with the ball and the energy that the team was transmitting in a football match. We were very direct, we were playing forward and we were really attacking. There was a lot of movement, the spaces were always occupied and we were a threat in behind. There were a lot of things. But it depends on the players, it depends on the opponents but on Saturday it was close to a lot of things that we want, for sure.
On whether that was the best performance of the season:
I think so and to do it in the way we did it, when the confidence is low and when the belief is in a doubting mode because you are not getting the results, getting that result against a top opponent is not an easy thing to do. So congratulations to the players for doing that.
On what is more mentally tiring out of playing and managing:
It’s a simple answer. It’s managing!
On why that is:
Because there’s a lot of people you have to take care of and I always said that you have 70 hearts and that’s the training ground, the stadium and that dressing room and you have to look after them every day. Every word, every decision that you make has an impact in their lives, in their mood and in their next days. You are very conscious of that and you get attached emotionally to them and you get attached emotionally to this football club in a way that makes these emotions even bigger. Then it obviously drains you energy-wise.
On if the Chelsea win was a message to senior pros that there is young talent that can provide serious competition for positions:
I think it’s a message within the squad that everybody is important here, everybody is here to contribute and everybody is useful. As a manager, whether you are a young or a senior player, everybody is here to contribute and I think it’s a great message for everybody that when we rely on them, we can rely on them and we don’t have to have any doubts about them.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
Is this another must win for Mikel Arteta?