The Premier League season for Arsenal simply isn’t going to plan and that may be an understatement, but outside of that, it does feel as if the Gunners are making some real progress in the UEFA Europa League. Their win over Dundalk last night ensured that they are officially the only club in the UCL or UEL to win all six of their group games this season.
After the full time whistle had blown, manager Mikel Arteta spoke with the media after another strong European outing.
On the game and the group stage:
Well the group stage in general has been very positive, obviously. It’s never easy to win these games in Europe. I think we’ve been really consistent and performing well. Today’s performance was overall positive because we won the game but as well we had some moments after scoring the first two goals where we were a little bit disconnected and we got a little bit confused by what the game required. That is normal because the job is done in the group but as well it is not the standards that we need. Then we reacted, we got better, it’s true that we rotated a lot of players. We gave players who haven’t played any football some [minutes], and some young players too. There were a lot of positives but some things as well that we have to improve.
On Emile Smith Rowe:
He hasn’t played many games and he’s playing in a position that doesn’t suit him perfectly with his qualities. But you can see that every time he is around the ball something is going to happen. He has a lot of creativity, he’s a player who has the quality to receive the ball and do things in areas where there are high-value spaces after it gets opened. He’s a threat and I’m really happy with his performance.
On whether Smith Rowe might play against Burnley:
There’s a chance for everybody.
On players in the Europa League team featuring in the Premier League:
Yes, now we have to forget about the Europa League because that’s in February. We need to focus strongly in the Premier League and in the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup when it starts in January. Now we need everybody on board, we obviously have a large squad at the moment with players back from the injury, so we’ll have the opportunity to pick who is better in the moment and still rotate some players. But it gives us more options in the Premier League, to focus there and try and get the results we need.
On Folarin Balogun’s performances:
Yeah, he’s done really well. Every minute he’s been on that field he’s been superb and today he looked a threat again. He scored a goal and set up another one, and he looked really lively and mature on the pitch.
On whether Balogun will sign a new contract:
Well, we’ve been having some discussions with the player. He knows that we want to retain him at the club and we know that the length of his contract at the moment is an issue, but we’re trying to resolve it in the best possible way. We want him to stay and he’s said to me that he wants to stay at the club, so hopefully we can reach an agreement and extend his contract.
On whether Eddie Nketiah is due a start in the Premier League:
He has started and he has the possibility to start again. As you said, he’s a goal threat and he’s a player that’s always very close in every action that is around the box. He’s lively, he’s got the hunger and he’s only satisfied when he scores, and that’s what we need now, so he’s an option for sure.
On whether Burnley will be the true test of our response:
Yes, but we just need the result. I have zero doubt about how the boys are going to respond and how we are going to try and be involved. We have to get the three points in our locker.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
How far will Arsenal go in this season’s Europa League?