Arsenal have been able to piece together back to back wins in the Premier League for the first time in what feels forever, and this weekend, they’ll attempt to take it a step further when they make the trip up to the Midlands to take on struggling West Bromwich Albion.
The season isn’t going to be defined by whether or not the Gunners are able to win this game, but as noted by Mikel Arteta during his pre-match press conference, it’s certainly important for the club to try and build up some momentum to kickstart 2021.
On the latest team news:
We will see today, some players had to come in yesterday to get assessed after the game, we had a couple of knocks. Then we had players that have been through all the Covid regulations with different individuals which I think we will recover for the game against West Brom, but it will be between today and tomorrow to see who is available, who is fit and how everybody is feeling.
On Bukayo Saka’s fitness:
I hope he is available, we will see today if he is training or not. He has played a lot of minutes as well. I am confident he will be okay for the game.
On what back-to-back wins has done for confidence:
We needed those results, that’s for sure, but we need a much longer run than that. There are things we have done much better to get the results in the last two games, but there are things that still we have to do better and improve. Confidence-wise it is a completely different scenario when you are winning football matches, everybody plays with more freedom, more belief, the pressure gets released a little bit and that is always a positive thing towards performances.
On West Brom’s two matches under Sam Allardyce:
Two very different matches, the first one against Liverpool where they had a really clear plan and they executed it really good. Even going 1-0 down they didn’t really change anything at all, they knew they would have their moments, they grew and got into the game and were much more efficient in the second half and put Liverpool in trouble. Sam is very efficient about what he does, he has a very clear philosophy of playing, he always picks up results, he always makes it really difficult for you and he is not going to be different. His teams are always really well organised and know exactly what to do, so it will be a tough test again.
On the release of pressure on him personally:
I think it has lifted on everyone, but honestly there is certain pressure of course we understand, but most of that pressure on wanting to do so well and disappointing people more than anything else – and trying to find ways to improve the situation as much as possible. Sometimes in this game it is difficult to explain the reasons why you are losing football games and doing much better than the opponent you lose it, and sometimes when you don’t deserve it that much you still win football games. It is what it is, but what was clear was that we had to win football games to release the pressure on everybody, we have done that but there is still a long way to go.
On whether he understands the calls for a break in the Premier League:
Absolutely, we are all concerned with our own health and what is going on around us. But at the same time, with all the protocols we have in place, everything we do around the training ground, around football matches, the fact that we play our sport outdoors, it minimises the risks a lot. If you see the records since we began to test, it is incredibly positive and I think as long as we can, we have to keep on doing that. Obviously we can’t put anybody at risk but I think we have shown that the system is working, okay in the last week or so something has happened and I think we will have more restrictions and more tests to try to be as efficient as we were before but I think it can work and I think we can carry on doing it.
On Sead Kolasinac:
I cannot confirm anything yet. We are working on a couple of things and obviously the window is going to bring a lot of news. Some are true, some are not. Whenever we have something to say, we will announce it.
On whether there is any truth in the reports linking Sead with a return to Schalke:
We’ve had some conversations around a few players and whether we can find some loans because the numbers we have in the squad at the moment are really big. Again, we cannot confirm anything yet.
On whether he thinks it’s good for mental health for football to continue:
Well, the importance of football in this society is massive I think. When you ask and you talk to people and discuss what it means to have football games in this difficult period for everybody where there is not so much to do, I think it’s really, really important and what we have to do is just try to do it in a safe way, as we have been doing recently. I think there are many, many positives.
On him being a different man to speak to this week after two wins:
I am the same man! I am obviously happier and more relieved but results in this industry change everything and the perception is completely different when you win matches. We all know that. I am happier.
On whether he thought talk of a relegation battle was over the top:
But when you lose the games that we did and you are in the position that we were in in the table, at the end it is what it is and you have to accept that. There is nothing worse for me than trying to run away from that reality. For me, the worrying thing for me was the way that we were losing football matches and why we were losing them. That obviously brings a sense of fear that ‘wow, with them doing nothing they can still beat you’ but we’ve broken that tendency now and we’re in a more positive run. But again, there is a lot to do.
On what represents a successful season:
I never got that far [to publicly setting end of season targets]. For me, the important thing is the next match and how we do that and if we can get a result there and how we get that result. What is our performance, how are we evolving. And when you don’t [get the results], okay, we look at the things that we have to improve and see how we react when things are not going well because it’s a real assessment for your squad, for your staff, for the players and as a club. We’ve been through a lot in the last few months. Some really positive things that we have been able to change, some things that we didn’t expect to have and as well, a lot of disappointments recently in terms of results. For me to plan – especially in this world – what is going to happen at the end of the season and what is good or bad, it’s impossible to say. We know the aims for this football club and that’s to win every competition that we are involved in and it has to be nothing less than that. But as well, we have to understand the context that we are in and respect that but always have the mentality to change it as quickly as possible.
On whether he can see any similarities between last season and this season:
Well, it’s different because I’ve already been here a year and I’ve got a much better understanding of what is going on, what is working, what has to be changed and how we can do that. But the challenge is not very different. I think we know better how to deal with it.
On whether he has a New Year’s resolution:
For me, it’s honestly that the people around me are healthy and safe. That’s all I can ask for. I’m privileged to do what I do and I’m happy to do what I do, so I cannot ask for much more from myself.
on the need to trim our squad in the January transfer window:
Well, we have a large squad, we knew that and a lot of things we wanted to do in the summer, we couldn’t accomplish for different reasons. There are some players that are going to go on loan, they are going to leave, and that’s the priority at the moment. We cannot sustain the numbers that we have in terms of substitutions. We are looking to do that and then we will see if we have the right opportunities in the positions that we need some more help. We are working with the club to find that.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
Will Arsenal be able to keep their winning run going?