It’s officially game day as Arsenal travel up to the Black Country in order to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux. It’s not exactly a stretch to suggest that this is one of the biggest games of the season for the Gunners, as they attempt to give their hopes of European qualification a boost. Prior to the game, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta spoke with the media to preview the encounter.
On the positives from Norwich:
The performance for larger periods of the game, we completely dominated in the way that we wanted and I think a lot of things that we worked on actually happened. As well, the things that are evolving and have to be improved, like the ‘compete’ side of the team when we just give things to the opponent when the game is under total control that exposes us a little bit. But overall I think it was a very positive night.
On Wolves not being a ‘surprise package’ anymore:
I think they have shown in the past few years how consistent they have been with their performances. They are a group of players, and a club with a manager that have been doing exactly the same thing for many years and you can see their style of play, and a very clear identity of what they want to do,. They have been recruiting exactly the players they need in the positions to do what they want to do. They are a really difficult side to beat.
On the challenge from Wolves:
The manager has created the perfect environment for the players. I think they didn’t have very big expectations but with their performances and their consistency, they have gained respect from all the teams in the league. They compete really well, a really clear gameplan of how they want to expose their opponent, very solid defensively and with some really good talent in forward positions that can win the game at any moment. A very complicated side.
On Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore:
They link with each other really well. Their understanding, their movement, the partnership that they have… they are a big threat. I think Raul, the way he’s settled in the country and the player he’s become is as well because of the structure that he has in the team that his manager has created, and the players around him as well. Adama, I know him from his time at Barcelona, and he’s a player that can unlock the door at any moment in the game.
On how much he’s learned from his time in charge so far:
It’s been a challenge because as you’ve said, so many different things have happened in six months. A big lockdown, a lot of games when I joined, a lot of games after the lockdown, very little time to train and a lot of issues to be resolved as well around the team and within the club. Gathering all the information that I can to make the best possible decisions for the future of the club, to try to improve the team as much as possible, to get to know the players that we have, the environment that we’re trying to create, our culture. Hopefully step by step we’ll get better.
On whether breaking down Wolves’ defence is the biggest challenge this weekend:
Yes. I think a lot of teams have struggled to create anything against them. They are really, really strong defensively, very well structured, very little spaces to attack. We have a plan to try to help them, with the right players in the right spaces to try to create the chances that we need to win the game. As well, they’re a team who try to counter-attack and when they are stable in the final third against the opponent, they have the players to hurt you. That’s why they are very solid and consistent. They are a team that doesn’t concede many and always has a good chance to win the game, and be up near the top of the table.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
Will Arsenal get the win this evening?