Arsenal’s defence of their FA Cup crown will begin tonight as they prepare to host Newcastle United in a third round clash at the Emirates. The Gunners will be coming into the game as the favourites but as we’ve all come to learn about this team, that doesn’t mean a single thing until they actually go out there and play.
Mikel Arteta is probably feeling pretty good about himself after guiding Arsenal to three straight victories, and as he attempts to try and make it four, the Spaniard has taken the time to speak with the media about this tie.
On the contrast between three weeks ago and now:
Yes it’s great to win the last three games. The spirit, the energy around the place and the vibe is always better. I feel better myself. In this Christmas period, to win three games in a row is never easy in this league and we’ve done it, so hopefully we can pick up a much better run.
On his memories of winning the FA Cup in August:
It was a beautiful day. It was the last game of the season, everyone took off after that and it was a really difficult end of the year with all the COVID situations that we had. Obviously it was a great day to finish the season on a high.
On whether he’s amazed that Wenger won it seven times:
Absolutely. We’re going to go after every competition. We are the holders, we have to defend that title. We know what it means to the football club and the history that is related to the FA Cup. It’s a great competition to play in for us.
on Mesut Ozil’s future...
I don’t know what is going to happen. Obviously now he’s free to negotiate with other clubs. We will discuss internally what the best situation for him is for the near future, obviously with the player and the agent too, and try to find the best solution for everyone.
On much of a concern the postponements are due to COVID:
It is worrying because we see every day what is happening in the country and the level of infections. That is increasing. You can sense not the panic but the worry around everybody. We are suffering for all the people that are involved in different and difficult circumstances. We cannot isolate from that. What we try to do is try to maintain the infections as low as possible, follow all the protocols and the doctors are doing an incredible job to try to maintain a safe environment for us. We have to try to keep insisting, not just to our players but also to all the staff and everybody involved around the place, to be very conscious of how difficult the situation that we are in is and how lucky we are to still do what we do.
On whether the players and staff are anxious about COVID:
Yeah they are worried but they know that in this environment they are really well protected. Obviously this virus is touching everybody now personally. You always have a relative, a parent, a friend that has been hit with the virus in many different ways. We are now very educated about it and have a history related to it. Then it becomes more worrying of course.
On the fourth and fifth-round draw being made at the same time:
It seems like every year we’re changing some rules in every competition, every cup. Something needs to be different, I don’t know why it is. I think we are doing something good in the country in that every cup is becoming more and more important. For example you saw in the Carabao Cup that the teams involved in the semi-finals and final compared to the last 18 years has improved. Everybody wants to win a trophy, everybody knows how difficult it is to win a trophy, so you have to stick to every competition. That is raising the levels, certainly, but we can do things a little bit simpler sometimes.
On Thomas Partey’s chances of playing against Newcastle:
Well, we have an extra two training sessions [before the game] and we will assess after that whether he is completely fully ready to participate against Newcastle, or if we’re going to leave it another few days for the Palace game. He is training really good, he is comfortable, he is not aware of the injury right now and he has done more than what he already did before he played after the injury against Spurs, so he is in a good place, a good mood and you can see the player he is when he is training.
On whether there should be stricter punishments for those who break their COVID bubble:
I think we have to be very aware of that and we have to be very strict. I think players, like any public person, has to be more aware than anybody else. There are a lot of people who don’t respect the rules. They’re out there, they don’t get noticed and they can get away with that. We are luckier than anybody else because we are still in and around the players and we can still do our job and continue with our professions. We have to bear in mind that everything we do has other consequences that when other people act, it doesn’t. At the moment we cannot let anyone down. We’re taking some risks to continue playing and we’re trying to do the right things. People are sacrificing their lives to help society in this moment and what we have to do is contribute and not give any more issues to the public or to the government to make a decision we don’t want. The doc is very aware and all the time trying to push (the rules). We are getting educated now with new rules, new protocols around the players, and sometimes you can make a mistake, but there are certain things we cannot allow to happen.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
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