The UEFA Europa League may not be everyone’s favourite competition, but there’s no way of denying just how efficient Arsenal tend to be when they play in it.
They picked up another win last night as they ran out 3-0 winners over Molde, confirming their position as one of the leading contenders to win the whole thing. It was the definition of a well-rounded performance and manager Mikel Arteta recognised that, talking through the ins and outs of the win with the media after the game.
On Nicolas Pepe’s performance:
I am really pleased. After the disappointment of something negative, you want to see a reaction and I could see from the first minute with his body language that he was ready to act. I think he had a great performance, he scored one goal and could have scored another one or two. He created some good moments in the game and worked really hard for the team, so I really like it, I am pleased with that.
On having fans back in the stadium:
I am really happy, the club is working really hard on the final details after the announcement that we had to try to make it possible. We are delighted, the players are delighted and we need to make sure it works and we can increase [the crowds] after.
On whether he will adopt this formation in the Premier League:
It depends on the players that we have available and a few things that we have to make sure that we can control better than we did tonight. There were a lot of positives, we looked a threat all the time but there were some issues there to be resolved. This will take time, and its that we changed the team a lot, we played a lot of young players but I was really pleased with the performance and the personality that they showed on the pitch.
On Pepe always looking a threat:
We all know what his level, and all the time the question is how often he can get to that level and how he contributes to other aspects of the game. Today is the example of the level he needs to hit, and he needs to keep doing it because he is capable of it and you can see that every time he gets in those positions win the final third, he is a real threat and a very difficult player to control because he can go with his feet, he can come inside, he can shoot, he can create crosses and he can go in behind you as well. That is what we can expect from him.
On Folarin Balogun’s goal:
Yes, it was well deserved for the boy. He is working really hard, he had some difficult months with all the speculation around him but he has handled the situation in a really mature way. He wants to stay, we want him to stay, we give him the opportunity and he took it straight away.
On David Luiz’s fitness:
We hope that he is okay. These surfaces bring different challenges to some players that have issues in their bodies, and it is quite aggressive to play on this surface so we wanted to take zero risk on that. It is okay, he should be fine.
On Reiss Nelson:
He’s made some big steps in the last month or so. He’s shown what he can do. Again, he’s another player that wants to take you on all the time, he’s very vertical, he’s a great player when he runs in behind and he’s very unpredictable. I really like these types of players to play in the wide positions. Defensively, there are things that he needs to do better and he will improve in that but he’s a much more mature player. He showed a great attitude, in my opinion, to say that he didn’t want to leave on loan because he belives that he’s got a chance to play for this football club. He’s showing that he wants to take that direction. He’s performing in the right way.
On if he’s spoken to Reiss Nelson on what he needs to do better:
Yes. We’re doing a lot of work with him, obviously. He’s so willing. He’s asking for more all the time. He wants individual meetings. He wants to work on the pitch in certain aspects in which we think he can improve. He’s training really really well, he’s developing as well. He had a click and we needed that click. Now it’s up to him but I must say that his last performances have been really good.
On our young players linking up to score:
I think it was a great combination from Dani, Kieran, Emile and Flo and Emile is a player with an incredible talent. He’s the got ability and the quality. Mentally, it is always a challenge because the demands are so high, the pressure is high to play here and you need to hit those levels to become an Arsenal player. It’s down to him as well. I really like him and he’s a player that if we are a little bit patient [with], we have a great player there.
On if qualifying for the knockout stages early helps give young players more time on the pitch:
Yeah but they have had chances even from the first game. We decided to give them chances because you have to give them real opportunities. For me to play them in friendly games is not a real chance. Youn have to give them the right competition and you have to surround them with senior players and big players around them. Then you can assess whether they’re at the level, whether they have the personality to play at this club, how they react to good and bad moments and this is what we are trying to do. To play the next game, they have to earn it, just like everybody else in the squad, because we want to finish first. I think we are using our young players well in the competition.
On if more fans could return safely to Emirates Stadium than is planned:
Well, I don’t know how many we can get, 2000 in a big stadium doesn’t sound like a lot but I think we have to go step by step. The club has to put in a lot of work and effort to prepare everything in the best possible way and hopefully next Thursday we can see some fans there, enjoying [the game], supporting the team and being safe.
On if we can bring our high-scoring form in Europe to the Premier League:
This is what we want [to do]. We’ve been more efficient in this competition. It can be down to some of the players that we utilise in certain positions, it can be because of the opposition, there are a few factors there. I must say that if we want to be fighting with the big clubs, obviously the amount of goals that we score has to improve because defensively I think we’ve had four clean sheets in the last six games, which is pretty good, but offensively our numbers have to improve.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
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