As the inconsistency that has followed Arsenal around like a bad smell for years goes on, many wonder what sort of season the Gunners can have between now and May. They’ve already proven themselves capable of battling it out with the very best in the league, but if they want to qualify for Europe, they really do need to string a run of big wins together.
That starts this weekend with a big trip to the Midlands to take on an Aston Villa side who have impressed a lot of people this season.
On how tough it is to put the Wolves defeat behind us:
I don’t know how hard it is for everybody but we have to move on. We have a big game on Saturday and we need to go again. There are things to learn from the game, things we can’t control obviously and a lot of positives to take there, [so we must] move on, go for the next one and keep the momentum going.
On Bukayo Saka’s impact on his return:
I think it was the team collectively, the way we played, the goals we should have scored, the dominance we showed and wee need to keep going. With 10 and nine men, after watching the game back, the fight, the resilience of the team, the passion with which they played is incredible. My praise is there because we still had chances to score a goal, even with nine players and that is completely down to them, how much they want to fight and the spirit they have around them.
On Aston Villa’s defeat to West Ham:
I am not here to judge their performance. They have been fantastic through the season, they have beaten some top teams, they have been on a really strong run and they beat us when he played them at home so we have to make sure that we go there and win the game.
On Mat Ryan’s fitness:
He has not been available to train yet, and Alex is available, so we will have the choice between the two of them for the weekend. If Mat is able to train, and they are both fit, we will have a decision to make. If Mat is not fit, obviously Alex will be in goal.
On Auba being available:
Well he is available, he played a few minutes after 10 days of not doing much and hopefully in the next two days he feels good and he is available to contribute to the team.
On the key to Pepe’s form:
Even when we made decisions not to play him, he kept working hard. He has improved in a lot of areas and has been much more consistent for 90 minutes. He’s a threat at the moment because he’s been scoring goals, he’s been assisting players, he’s been a real threat. He needs to continue doing that.
On concussion substitutes:
We’ve got a meeting this afternoon with the Premier League to have much more information and clarity about how we can use them and the rules behind them. I think it’s necessary and opens another possibility. When something dramatic happens on the pitch, at least we have the ability to replace that player.
On whether his team is starting to resemble his long-term vision:
Yes. The first transfer window was a very rushed one because I just arrived. The other two we had a little more time. If you see the amount of transactions we’ve done in this window, it’s incredible. Credit to the club, credit to Edu for the work that he’s done because it’s not easy to get the amount of things that we’ve done in one window. I know that most of them was to get some players out and create some space around the team, but it’s still not an easy thing to do in this window or this market.
On if it would be ‘gutting’ for Mat Ryan to miss out:
This is football and these things happen. That’s why when we allowed Matt Macey to go, we knew that we had to get somebody else because we knew these things can happen. Unfortunately when you least need them, it actually happens. So we are more protected now, having Mat as well in the squad and let’s see if he’s fit. But for now, Alex is fit as well.
On how he feels about the online abuse of players and how he reacts:
There are all types of different abuses and I think it has to be eradicated completely. I think social media has a big responsibility on that, because then you talk about the mental health of the players and the public and how exposed they are. I am all open and I’m for people to have their opinions, but not just to be insulting people, abusing people and using a screen on somebody’s mobile phone to tell them whatever you want, to a person that you don’t even know. That for me has to be eradicated, because it is causing a lot of damage in football and a lot of damage to public people. So I think we have to be really strong on that and I think you guys [the media] as well have a big part to play to support us and the industry here.
On whether he’s having to manage Kieran carefully:
No, it’s a different injury in this case. Kieran is a player that really pushes himself and he has to be able to perform physically at his best because he cannot help himself. Even in training he can’t help himself. We are trying to manage him in the best possible way and find every possibility to give him the best chance to be fit as soon as possible, and we are here to support him as much as we can.
On whether he has the character to cope with the pressure:
Yeah, he works really hard and he’s fitting in really well around the dressing room. He’s a really nice boy, really humble and he needs to be away from all the comments to focus on his work and improving.
On whether VAR has changed the way he coaches and advises his players:
There are some things that we need to be more careful with, for example with the handball rule around the penalty area. That’s for sure with the way you have to stop the crosses and block crosses. It has an effect and you have to train it.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
Can Arsenal get back on track at Villa Park?