It’s time for another distraction from the misery of the Premier League as Arsenal prepare for their final game of the 2020 UEFA Europa League group stage. The Gunners will be locking horns with Dundalk for the second time this season, and while they’ve already secured their place in the knockout stage, a win here would make them the only club in the Champions League and Europa League to win all six group games during the campaign. It may not be much, but it’s something.
Ahead of the game, manager Mikel Arteta spoke with the media.
On how he’s feeling after the north London derby:
The demands for this football club are the highest. We are not getting the results in the league that we all expect, of course the pressure is increasing. But more than the pressure, I would say the responsibility of all of us to make it happen next Sunday and start winning football matches, which is the most important thing.
On how he copes with that pressure:
I always work harder. I sleep less and I try to encourage everybody that is next to us to be positive and to believe in what we do. This is how I approach the situation.
On team news:
We have a few kids here. We left a few players at home as well. There are a lot of games and we need a complete training week as well, which I think is going to benefit us. But we’re still going to have a very competitive team to play tomorrow.
On Thomas Partey:
He got injured in the same area, not exactly the same spot but the same area as before. He will miss the next few matches.
On whether it was an unnecessary risk to rush him back:
He did incredibly well and he was very confident. We tested him three times and he had zero symptoms, but in football you have a lot of unpredictable actions. He went into the floor, his knee got stuck, afterwards he stretched and got up. Immediately he put a lot of stress in a similar area and it happened. Afterwards people will say it was a bit early but I don’t think it was because he was completely fine to play.
On whether five or six players is an accurate number of new players he will need:
No but it’s not just to recruit because there are players that are evolving that you could not see that they could play in those positions and now you see how they are performing and playing. We’ve got a lot of players that are here that weren’t capable to play in that way of playing and they are. So as well, it’s about timings, it’s about coaching them and about them evolving in the right positions and maturing. It’s a bit of everything.
On if he thinks his senior players are justifying his faith in them:
Well, if I pick them then it’s because I believe that we have a better chance to win football matches. We play young players in delicate moments as well and we played young players in finals. I think it’s a bit much to say we just play the senior players in the Premier League.
On the game against Dundalk being a chance for a young player to put pressure on senior players:
Yes and they are putting the pressure on. We have some really good examples of things that have happened in the last few months and not only players that are starting football matches in different competitions, but as well, players that have taken the spot of somebody senior in that team or that squad.
On whether that process could continue:
That process will continue.
On if he’d support his team if they chose to walk off the pitch due to an incident of racism:
Absolutely. If the players believe that is the right thing to do, I will do it and be right behind them.
On what he expects from Dundalk:
Well, first of all I would like to congratulate them for winning the cup on Sunday. That’s a great achievement, so congratulations to the club, the coaching staff and the players. And yes, I saw a really brave team when they came to the Emirates and I think they will play with no fear in a beautiful stadium and they will make things difficult for us.
On whether we’ve trained on the pitch yet as it has been used a lot recently:
No, that’s why we decided to come straight to the hotel and we had our training session in London. Let’s leave the pitch a little bit to breathe because it’s had two intense matches in the last 72 hours.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
Will Arsenal make it six wins from six in the group stage?