Arsenal are coming off the back of a much-needed win against Rapid Wien in the UEFA Europa League as they bounced back from a narrow defeat to Manchester City last weekend. Alas, as we look ahead to the busy winter period, the games are really going to start coming thick and fast.
The next big test comes in the form of a meeting with Leicester City on Sunday, and while many believe the Gunners should get the job done at the Emirates, Mikel Arteta knows that it’s going to be a tough test.
On the win against Rapid Vienna:
I am really happy with the result because to go away in Europe and win is never easy. We had a good test last night, as well going a goal down, coming back into the game and managing to win it, was a good sign of character of the team and how they pushed and kept trying and believing we could get a result. Overall obviously there were things in the performance that we have to improve but happy to start with a win.
On whether he is able to focus on the positives:
Yes, because I saw things within the cohesion and how much we get about each other that I really like. One of the examples is the reaction the team had with Bernd after his decision [for the Rapid goal]. I ask them to do that, to take those risks, to play the way we want to play and sometimes it is going to happen, but the reaction of the team with him when we scored the first and the second goals was really good. That comes from them and the culture we are trying to create here.
On Thomas Partey:
I was really impressed because he looked really confident, he grabbed the game in the most difficult period, he took responsibility, he was really comfortable on the ball, he made a lot of right decisions, he was really strong in the challenges in every transition moment. I was impressed.
On the effect he can have on the rest of the team:
It is about finding the cohesion in the team and the fluidity with and without the ball what we want. Finding some specificity was in my opinion lacking in the squad, to get the pieces in the right places where everyone is comfortable doing their job that we give them to do. I think we are much more balanced. The same with Gabi (Gabriel), the performance he had last night as well and what he brings to the team. We will see a team that is closer to what we are trying to do.
On Gabriel’s impressive start:
We saw qualities in him that is exactly what we wanted., but then you move him from France to here at an early age, without talking the language, to adapt to a new way of playing as well and he has done it really quickly and is showing a great mentality as well because we threw him in against Fulham after three or four training sessions and you could see the performance he had there.
On Leicester’s start to the season:
Well, they’re a really difficult team. I think Brendan and his team have done a great job. They dramatically changed the philosophy and the way of playing, since they arrived and I think they had an incredible season last season. This season, ups and downs, like almost every team in the Premier League and some incredible results, like when they played against City. They can adapt and play different ways and sometimes they are really dominant, sometimes they can defend with a low block but overall they’re a really, really good team.
On whether he can take anything from the Carabao Cup win:
I think it was different. Different players and probably different formations as well, in a different competition. But I think we will both look at those and try to get something out of it, but I think it will be a different game.
On the 1-1 draw at Emirates after lockdown:
I think we played really, really well and we should’ve been three or four-nil up in the first half. In the second half, when we had total control of the game as well, we got Eddie Nketiah sent off and we played with 10 men and we ended up conceding really late. But again, it was a really intense game.
On team news:
We have to assess a few players today. We have some knocks and niggles from last night which is normal and after a long flight as well. Let’s see how everybody is today.
On whether it’s too early to comment on Dani and Willian:
I think so, I think so. They haven’t trained with us yet, so we’ll have to see how they react in the next couple of days.
On the return of some long-term injuries and welcoming the selection headaches:
Yes, we have a big squad. I think most of the teams do have this season because I think we have to bear in mind with the coronavirus situation that things can change really quickly and you have to be able to have the numbers to compete in the different competitions. With the Premier League rules allowing you to just take 18 players, it’s a headache and it hurts to all the time leave four or five players out of the squad as well. So we have to try to manage that as good as we can.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
Will Arsenal pick up the win over Leicester?