Arsenal fans were expecting a tough game against Newcastle United yesterday but in the end, they actually wound up looking pretty comfortable in a convincing 2-0 win over the Magpies. They didn’t exactly look 100% back to their best, and they still need to work on a lot of issues ahead of their Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal, but at least they got a win on the board.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta spoke with the media after the game as the hope for an unlikely top six move goes on.
On it being the perfect afternoon:
Apart from David’s injuries. That’s all we wanted, to keep the team fresh, give players with the right attitude the chance to play this game and then be able to just focus on today. I think we had a really strong performance from the beginning. We dominated the game and we got the three points that we needed, which helps for Thursday as well.
On David Luiz’s injury:
We don’t know. He felt something in his hamstring so it’s not good news. He’s put in such a shift to be back with the team for the last few weeks after the knee surgery. It’s a real shame.
On whether any of his eight changes have made a case to start on Thursday:
Yes, some of them had some strong performances but they’ve been preparing really well all the time. They deserve the chance and let’s think about it. We’ll assume everybody is fit on Thursday and then we can make the right decision.
On Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang playing 78 minutes and scoring:
We thought that he wasn’t going to manage that. On Thursday, and the day before, he was struggling and he could only manage to play 10 or 15 minutes but the day afterwards he was starting to feel better. It’s good to see that he was fine today, he performed well and scored a goal too. It’s a real positive.
On Mohamed Elneny’s first Premier League goal:
It was a good one and an important one. You could see the reaction of his team-mates. He’s a really popular guy in the dressing room and he totally deserves everything he gets because he’s a fantastic player and person to work with.
On Gabriel Martinelli:
I think they all played really well and Gabi is improving every week. He’s taking his minutes in the right way and he’s developing the way we all believe he can. Today he had an assist, which was an important moment, and he had some good moments off the left – and also trying to play as a No 9 as well.
On Martinelli’s playing time:
Just look at how much he’s played in the last few years. Then how much he’s played with me when he’s available. Then we can discuss that. It’s what happens. This debate is always happening when you don’t win. If it’s not him, it will be someone else. If it’s not Gabi, it will be Lacazette, Willian or Pepe. It’s part of it.
On whether he sees Martinelli as a No 9 in the long-term:
Time will tell but I would like to develop him in both positions because I think he’s got the potential to do both.
On Kieran Tierney and Alex Lacazette’s availability on Thursday:
They haven’t trained with the team yet so I think they’re unlikely to be.
On whether Aubameyang is the ‘right connection’ for Martinelli:
Yeah it is a connection. Having Granit behind him helps him in a way because he’s more in the line, in the last line on the left where he is more comfortable. With Kieran it’s a little bit different. Those relationships are ones we have to built. If there are any doubts, I love Gabi so much. More than all of you together!
On Reiss Nelson:
With Reiss, I would like to give him more. He’s a boy who tries really hard, he trains every day, he wants to do extra all the time. It’s very difficult at the moment with the players we have to be able to fit him in. I feel sorry that we don’t have other competitions to use him in, because he deserves more. He doesn’t play more and that’ my fault.
On whether that was the perfect preparation for Thursday:
Yes because we had a strong and a very convincing performance. We scored two goals, we kept a clean sheet, won the points, and had some really strong individual performances too. The only downside is the one with David because we know how important he is to us. I think we lost him today.
On not just focusing on Thursday’s game:
That was the biggest part of the preparation today. We were away in Spain because we believe it was the right way to prepare for the game today, to give them the right rest, and then mentally as you said it was important to focus on today. We had to pick the right players to play and perform like they did. I think the message got across really clearly.
On whether we can still qualify for Europe via the league:
I don’t know. Mathematically it’s possible but it’s out of our hands. We don’t have much to say apart from winning football matches.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
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