While Arsenal have struggled to find consistency in the Premier League so far this season, they do seem to be enjoying themselves in the UEFA Europa League. That trend continued last night as they put four past Rapid Vienna at the Emirates, continuing their surge towards the knockout stage in the process.
After the win, manager Mikel Arteta was happy to speak with the media as the Gunners attempt to turn things around pretty quickly heading into one of their most important games of the season so far – the North London derby.
On having the 2,000 fans back in the stadium:
Very special and I am delighted to have them back. I think they made a huge contribution. We had 2,000 but it looked like many more. They were very supportive of the team, very encouraging and the lads were saying it makes a huge difference to feel that support and energy. Thank you so much to them for coming and supporting the team.
On restoring some confidence ahead of the north London derby:
Yes, we have been really consistent in this competition. I think the boys showed a great energy, character and aggression today. Right from the beginning you could feel they were touched from the last defeat and everyone individually played a really good game. In the final third we were really aggressive with the ball, we created many chances, scored four goals and probably should have scored more – and now let’s take that into Sunday, a very special game, we are all looking forward to it, and let’s do it all again.
On Alex Lacazette’s performance as a No 10:
It was a good game in that position, I think it suits him, it gives him a bit of freedom and he is really good at linking play in those positions. He worked really hard and scored a beautiful goal.
On Maitland-Niles playing in central midfield:
What he’s done today the great thing with Ainsley is that he can fill various positions and that’s a great thing to have in a squad. He has played on the left as a wing back, on the right, he can play as a holding midfield, as an attacking midfielder and again the performances like tonight helps, and he has a chance to play like anyone else.
On Ainsley adding something extra in attack:
Yes, the same with Emile and the same that Joe Willock gives in those positions because they are attacking midfielder, they are not holding midfielders. They have it in their minds that they want to make those runs, make that final pass, they want to shoot and at the moment we need that: we need people with the mindset to score goals. They want to go there, they want to take their chances, they want to be aggressive when they have the ball and when the ball is far from them, they have to make it to the box because the middle of the goal is when goals are scored. When you get in those positions constantly, the chances of scoring goals increases so it is good to see that.
On Thomas Partey’s fitness:
Well, he is putting a lot of pressure on us! He is training tomorrow with us, and let’s see how it goes in the next few days.
On whether our team tonight showed the passion and desire that he’s looking for:
I’ve said before, I’ve seen the passion and I’ve seen the energy in the last few games. There were moments that the moment you take your foot a little bit off the pedal, or the moment you lose a little bit of focus in the Premier League, you get punished. The margin that we are losing games is very small and in Europe at the moment you have a little bit bigger margin, and you need to know that. But I’m really pleased with the work that they’ve done today and I think the 11 of the team had a real purpose on the game, even though we have qualified. This is the spirit that I want to see every single day.
On how many of tonight’s team could feature against Tottenham:
Well, you’ve seen in the last few games that we’ve used some players on the Thursday and then they’ve played on the weekend, and this can change and this will change. I don’t try to use different competitions to put out two different teams. It’s because we’re using them with the amount of injuries and suspensions and the performance levels that they can give us in various positions. You can see tonight that some of them might deserve to start the game on Sunday.
On Lacazette’s goal:
It was great because to score that goal, you have to shoot, and he shoots from 25 yards. He took it, he never doubted, he took the first touch forwards, not backwards, and that was the mindset of where is the ball, he shoots and he scores. Everyone today was really positive every time they got on the ball and we tried to attack the opponent’s box as much as possible. I think when you shoot, anything can happen, and if you don’t, we’re never going to score goals.
On whether he could enjoy the experience of fans returning:
I was so focused on the game that I didn’t hear or understand what they were saying! But it made a huge difference, honestly, even if it was only 2000. Those 2000 were really positive towards the team and that energy in some really difficult moments is even more appreciated. I appreciate the supporters a lot.
On whether the return of fans impacted his ability to deliver instructions:
Not yet, but it will come hopefully and they can make that happen and it will be great! At the end, you’re trying to transmit something to the players that is missing when they are not there, but the moment that they are there, obviously it’s less necessary for the coaches to intervene so much. Hopefully in time we will get there.
On whether clubs who can host supporters will have an advantage over those who can’t:
Well, probably, because this sport without fans is totally different. The players lose a bit of focus and emotion and it’s something you want to share. At the end of the day, we are here to entertain and make the fans enjoy it. They have a huge passion for this football club and when they are able to transmit that, it gets directly into the players and for me to have them here, at home or away, is always different, and it’s because of them.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
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