Arsenal are well aware that they’ll be viewed as the underdogs heading into their game against Leicester City today. Still, even with that being the case, they’ll also know that they’ve got what it takes to overcome the Foxes if they can just get things going early on. Whether or not that happens though, given their inconsistencies, remains to be seen.
Gunners manager Mikel Arteta has taken the time to not only look ahead to the Leicester game, but to also reflect on the success of the win over Benfica.
On how crucial the win was for the development of the team:
I think it was really important for all of us, because it is a competition that opens a few doors for us in terms of having the possibility to win a trophy and qualify for the Champions League. Obviously it is all the time in our mind because we know our league position at the moment, that has to improve dramatically but if we do well in this competition it gives us an extra chance and a hope to achieve something this season.
On how good Bukayo Saka can be:
How good can he be is a question nobody can answer. How good he is and how good he wants to be, that is probably where we can find a lot of answers for why he is doing so well. He is a boy that is constantly willing to learn, to get better, to work on the things he can do better and he is a very humble and hard working boy. When that happens normally, and you have the talent he has, you can go a long way.
On Aubameyang reaching his best form again:
Yes, because he is getting into much better positions, his rhythm during the games is much better with and without the ball, his movement. The week before when we played Benfica, he had three big chances and I am not worried about him missing them because I know if he gets in those positions, he is going to be scoring consistently so this is what he has to demand of himself. If we have Auba at his best, as a team we obviously have a much better chance to be successful.
On whether he will rotate at Leicester:
Let’s see how we are feeling tomorrow. Today the players are still in Greece, we have to travel back on a four-hour flight but we won’t use that as an excuse. We have to deal with that, we know that when you play in European competition you have to be able to perform every three days and we will prepare to play Leicester with the same intensity like we always do.
On whether there are any fresh injury concerns:
No. We had some things going on but I cannot say anything now because there are a few players who are still in contention for the game.
On how big a test Leicester will be of our character:
They’ve been really consistent in the league. I think they’ve done a lot of good things, there’s not any luck or anything like that in how they’ve developed as a team. Obviously they have a really good manager, a great coaching staff and they have made a lot of good decisions in the last few seasons. They have built a way of playing which is completely suited to their recruitment policy they have, and with a bit of time the quality that they had already in the team – plus some young talents that they have recruited and experienced players they already have – they have a really good mixture. I think they totally deserve the position they are in at the moment.
On what the manner of the win over Benfica will do for club mood:
Hopefully for us and the players it will generate belief. We know that in this competition we’re going to go through difficult patches, be it a moment in a game, a whole game or something unpredictable that happens. You have to be able to react to it. All the winners in European competition have to have a magic moment, a moment of luck, have to be able to overcome difficult situations. We did it last night and in a convincing way as well because I could see the players were ready to fight and they never looked disappointed, even after the way we conceded the second goal. That gives me hope. It’s a good experience to have together. Hopefully we can use it for the future in the next games.
On if Brendan Rodgers should be considered for Manager of the Season:
I think so. Obviously what Manchester City are achieving at the moment is phenomenal. It’s unprecedented and that has to be rewarded but as I mentioned before, what Leicester have done in recent years, what they have already achieved this season, with the level of consistency that they’ve shown in the Premier League, I think [Brendan winning the award] is something to consider.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
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