Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is well aware of the task that lies ahead of him as the Gunners prepare to face Manchester City in their FA Cup semi-final this evening. Prior to kick-off, Arteta spoke with the media and gave his thoughts on the game.
On whether he can target Manchester City’s weaknesses:
That’s what we will try to do as much as possible. Like any other team, they have some weaknesses as you mentioned and as well, it’s about stopping their strengths, which they have a lot of. This is part of any game plan, it’s not about City or any other opponent that we’re facing, and tomorrow we will do exactly the same.
On how long Pep will stay at Manchester City for:
I don’t know. He’s been there for four years, which for him is quite a long time already and look at the success that he has had. He feels really happy there and he is surrounded by great people across the club. He feels that the players, the style and the identity he’s created belongs to him as well. He’s close to the fans and he’s really happy, but I don’t know. That’s a question for him.
On plans to get fans back into stadiums for October:
That’s the rumour we are hearing. Obviously things are evolving in different countries in different ways. I think we have to be patient. I think we are all desperate to have our people back in the stadium and make football what it is again. But obviously we want to be able to create a safe environment for everybody to come and join. My opinion is that it will be gradual. The sooner the better but let’s do it carefully.
On the FA Cup being the way into Europe for us:
Absolutely [it is massive for us]. For many different reasons but as well because this competition is a big part of our history, in the last 10 years even more. It’s a good opportunity for us to go and win a trophy, and we are very excited. We will try to go there again tomorrow and make another step forward.
On whether Mesut Ozil is in his thoughts:
Yeah he’s been training.
On whether Ozil is in the squad:
I haven’t done the squad yet, but he’s in training.
On whether the Liverpool victory sets us up nicely for City:
Unfortunately yes [City are going to have a lot of the ball]. We had a really good reaction after the goal [we conceded against Liverpool]. It’s not easy because they are such a dominant team, so I’m really pleased with the result that we got. They’re going to be very different games and it’s going to happen tomorrow as well, you cannot expect to be dominant for 90 minutes. I don’t want to be defending deep for 90 minutes either. There are going to be a lot of little games within that game that we have to play. We’ll have our moments as well and you know how crucial it is in big games and in this competition to make the right decisions. I expect not a similar game but the level of difficulty will again be really, really high.
On knowing Arsenal’s weaknesses from his time in the coaching team at Man City:
Well, it’s a different team and we are a different team as well. I know their strengths and I know the flexibility they have and the things that they are going to try. But even like that, sometimes it is very difficult to stop them. I want to focus on what we want to do. If I worry too much about them, it’s not the message that I want to send to the players. It’s what we are going to do and what we have to do to try to win the game, to give us the best chance to compete against them throughout the 90 minutes and put them under difficulties. That is what I will do and that is the game plan we always put against every team.
On whether he is worried by City winning all of our last seven meetings:
Yes. But if I look at the trends as well before we played Liverpool, with the calendar year or the last two calendar years that they’ve had, you get depressed. What I need now is energy to transmit to my players, belief and it’s the FA Cup – we have a lot of experience here and we have a history related to that. Let’s go for it.
On David Silva’s legacy in English football and if he is under-appreciated globally:
If I could read the articles and the comments when he joined the Premier League, they were saying that player is so small, he doesn’t have the physicality, he won’t adapt. What David has done in this league has been incredible. Again, the level of consistency to play the way he has done with the amount of goals, assists and chances that he creates every single season, in tight spaces against very low blocks, time and time again, is incredible. I always said – and I agree with what Pep said – in shorter spaces, he’s the best player that I’ve seen.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
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