Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta previews trip to Wolves

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta previews trip to Wolves

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta previews trip to Wolves


Arsenal travel to Wolves on Thursday after what seemed like an interminable mid-season break for Gooners everywhere.

With the Gunners currently in sixth place but with three games in hand on fourth place West Ham, a victory at Molyneux would give a huge boost to their prospects of finishing the season in the top four. 

Arsenal last played a fixture a full 18 days ago, when the North Londoners drew 0-0 with Burnley at the Emirates.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang now with Barcelona, the odds of an Arsenal striker topping the scoring charts are extremely low, so why not try your luck with casinos online if you're looking for a bet. However, Mikel Arteta was back in front of the media to preview Arsenal's Premier League match at Wolves.

The boss discussed the latest team news, the transfer window, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's departure and more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on how much the break has re-energised him and the squad…

We have tried to maximise the time in the best possible way. We had some clear objectives for what we wanted to achieve in that period and I think they have been achieved. We are ready to go and we need to play the first game after two weeks.

on how much the clarity of what we’re aiming for in the run-in will help us…

Some of the things we have discussed are how are we going to approach the last 17 games, what we need to do to accomplish or objectives, and the most important thing is that we are all on the same page: focused and determined, with the right belief and going game by game and not get lost in too many things that are too far. What we have to do daily and the habits we need to instil to get the level of performance that we need to win as much as possible.

on losing momentum in January and the mood in the squad…

Yes, for different reasons we didn’t get the results, it was different the performance we had against City and the draw we had against Burnley and in between we had the cup games. A lot happened there. We played three games out of five with 10 men, and if that’s one of the things in the last 17 games that we continue to do, our chances to be where we are going to be really low. The other thing is we lost a lot of players because of Covid and injuries, that’s another key factor that will determined where we finish this season. That’s it, because performance-wise I don’t think the team dropped their level that much. But here it is about results.

on the challenge of facing Wolves...

They have been really consistent and really efficient throughout the season, that is what the league table is showing with the performances they put in. So it's a really difficult opponent, we're going to be playing them twice [in two weeks] but we are difficult too.

on whether the squad is strong enough after the transfer window...

We did what we believed was the right thing to do, first of all with the players that had to leave. The squad composition and the contract situations were catching up in many of those situations and we had to make decisions and be fair as well with players who have not had a lot of minutes this season. That is what we did and then we had a very clear plan of what we could do and  then it has to be doable. Edu and his team did a fantastic job and they continue to do that, but we are very clear: we only want the best people and the best players at this club and when we are in a rush or different pressures, and the reasons are not the right ones to get a player on board, we decided not to do it.

on whether he's happy with what he has in his squad...

I trust the players, the quality that we have, the spirit, the togetherness that we have around the team and we can achieve what we want. We are going to need a high level of performances, we'll need our supporters on board - that will be so key - and we are going to have a real go. But again, we can only go game-by-game.

on not getting in an Aubameyang replacement in January...

The importance of Auba's goals at the club is unquestionable but we have other players and we believe we have other qualities in different ways to try to accomplish the amount of goals that we need in the team and that's what we're going to try and do.

on if it was best for Aubameyang to leave...

You've asked the question directly to me, so I'll respond. I am extremely grateful for what Auba has done at the club, for his contribution since I've been here. The way I see myself in that relationship is the solution, not the problem.

on the red card situation...

We have to play with 11 players on the pitch. We need most of the players available and fit as much as possible. We need to maintain the togetherness. We have to keep improving our game model and we have to go game by game. To do that we have to be super focused and we have to perform on the day and the rest will come because we are in the hands and the position where it's possible and we can achieve it but only if everybody has that mindset.

on Tomiyasu...

He's there. He had a recurring injury in the same place so we have to be careful with him but he's been training hard. Let's see if he's available or not.

on if he's disappointed at how the Aubameyang situation ended up...

I think it ended up in the best possible way for everybody. I think when things change and the context changes, this is part of football. What we did yesterday or a month ago is not relevant. It's what we're doing today and what we're going to be able to do in the future and you have to make the decisions and we all made the decision that the best thing to do was to move on and now he plays for Barcelona.

on when the decision was made...

We have had different kind of meetings and it's a decision that obviously we take collectively with the club, with the player and with his agent.

on not signing a new striker...

We have three strikers. We have Laca and we have Eddie with us and they are both more than capable of scoring goals and they have shown that over the years with us. Again, when we have to replace or improve the squad, it can only be with a player that we are certain of. Fist of all, that they're the right person and the right character to join and then they're a player with the quality to straight away impact the performance of the team and our capacity to build a future around him as well.

on if the right player wasn't available...

First of all I trust the players that I have. This is what I want to say.

on Aubameyang's comments after joining Barcelona...

It's his opinion and that's his opinion and that's what he said. That's his opinion and you have to respect that.

on if we could play with a false number nine…

We can play with different kinds of nines, and we have the option and the variability to do it. We can play with two nines as well because we have two, let’s see, depending on the game, where we are, the stage of the game as well, we have variables.

on if the break has been a reset for the team…

Yeah, well we played in the last five games in three different competitions; the Premier League when we played Man City, the FA Cup against Nottingham Forest and the two games against Liverpool in the tie that were extremely complicated because of the suspensions, the Covid situation and the injuries and then the last draw against Burnley that we should have won the game, but it is what it is. There were many factors there that are a lesson from those games why we didn’t win more football matches and things that are in our control hopefully in the future and we can do better.

on if he worries about player discipline…

I think when the culture it’s so rooted and strong, I think the manager has very little to do there because everything can be handled in the dressing room and that’s the ideal scenario. It takes a while to get that done, but in my opinion here, we are not too far from that.

on how he reminds his players to keep their discipline…

Well, I think there are a few factors, first of all how we raise them throughout our academy, the type of characters that we build and that’s the best way to do it in that pathway. Then, in recruitment, the type of characters and personalities that you are signing and making sure that they are the right ones to fit within your culture and then the other one is living by example, so when you see certain behaviours daily, they become habits and those habits are easy to follow and once they’re integrated, I don’t think anybody can escape from that and try to do something different, because it gets exposed.

on what the problem was with Aubameyang…

What I’m saying is that I’ve been the solution, 100 per cent. I can look in the eye of anybody.

on if he did anything wrong with Aubameyang…

Wrong? I do a lot of things wrong, for sure, but the intention all the time is the best and not for me, it’s for the club and for the team.

on if we need a strong captain to lead our young squad…

We have some exceptional senior players that are really helping. Why the young players are doing so well is because they have the senior players next to them giving the example. The togetherness and the chemistry that I saw in the last two weeks, a little bit out of the competition, we haven’t had time since I’ve been here because of Covid, two years without pre-season, without having time to spend together, it’s the thing probably that I’m most proud of and not only around the players, but the staff and the real chemistry that is there. That is something that is going to stay here.

on whether Lacazette will be captain until the end of the season…

Laca is the captain at the moment yes.

on whether he’s sending the message that no one is bigger than the club…

I don’t send [that message] I think, and it’s not (just) me here. This is the club. We make the decisions to defend the club. To try to improve the club as much as possible.  To respect the traditions and the values of this club. Obviously you talk much more about the difficult decisions than the positive ones, but there are far more positive decisions than difficult ones. Those ones at the end, I think they will become very very positive as well, but today it is probably difficult to see.

on whether he would have let Balogun go out on loan if he’d known Aubameyang would be leaving….

Well, again and with Flo especially and the amount of minutes that he played here, and the level that he shows when we could only play with the under 23s, it’s not fair. We want to develop that player, to maximise his potential - which is huge. We have to try to expose the player as quickly as possible to the level that he needs to be exposed. I was really confident that for him it was the right option, and he was convinced. So when that happens we have to let the player go, and evolve.

on whether the period of paying players to leave the club has now passed…

Hopefully by the turn-around of the squad, when we had that many things to do - and we already see the amount of changes - and the contractual situations that  are very much attached to those players are really difficult to handle. We want to thin the squad to have the capacity to evolve and improve it, so you have to make those decisions when you have the opportunity. Because sometimes you want to do it and you don’t have (the opportunity), and sometimes you have (the opportunity) but the player doesn’t want to do it. We believe that it was the right thing to do, but as always only results will tell if you are right or wrong.


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