Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has been speaking ahead of the Gunners trip to West London to face Chelsea tonight (Wednesday, April 20)
The Gunners discussed Takehiro Tomiyasu's fitness, Alexandre Lacazette's contract, the race for the top four and much more.
Read on for the full transcript:
on Alexandre Lacazette’s fitness…With Laca we are assessing him today to see if he is available with the team, obviously as you all know he had Covid so he’s been away for a few days. So we’re trying to get (how) he’s feeling and where he’s at if he can contribute somehow with the team.
on Takehiro Tomiyasu’s fitness…Tomi is very, very close. Whether this game is going to be too early for him or not, again we will decide it today after the training session.
on how difficult it’s been lately…Very difficult, because at this club it’s only about winning, and they were three different games, but with the same outcome. We are extremely unsatisfied with that, we know that, we’re hurting, but at the same time we know how we lost and what we merited from those games are not reflected in the amount of points that we taken. We have to understand why we lost those games as well, but there is nothing to look back on. Everything is still to play for, our ambition is still in tact, our desire is still in tact. We know the challenge ahead and we’re going to go for it.
on how close he is to knowing why we lost…I’m very close. Our efficiency in front of goal, and what the teams have produced in our own box with the amount of chances they created, there is no relationship there at all. So we have expected to win all the matches and we have periods when we have to be very critical with ourselves because we haven’t had good periods, especially in the first half against Palace, and the first 20 or 30 minutes against Brighton. But for the rest I think the team has produced more than enough to get a completely different outcome from the matches. It’s down to us, that’s the good thing.
on Lacazette’s comments about talking to other clubs…Well, his contract situation allows him to make the decision about the future. We have expressed clearly what our intention is, to speak in the summer when we know where we are and what we’re going to do in the future together, and for the rest I just want him fully focused on his duty, which is now defending Arsenal in the best possible way like he’s done all the time when he’s been with us, and that’s why he’s been wearing the armband of this football club, so that’s a big risk.
on Lacazette’s focus…Well, the contracts start and end with the expiry date that you have agreed on the day that you put the pen down, and then you have to live with the consequences of that. That’s the reality of the contract that he has and the commitment and the duty he has with the football club.
on how to lift spirits...Very clear on them. Very clear with why we have lost the games and then give them more support and confidence and be behind them because it is what they need and what we are going to need altogether between here and the end of the season. When things go well it's easy. It's all about 'we' but when things don't go that well, maybe it's about 'him'. I hate that and I'm the first one to try to apply myself to do that, defend out players, protect them and let them be who they've been because they've ben pretty good to be fair.
on handling expectations...This game is about putting the ball in the back of the next and at the end f the last weekend with the results that we had in front of us, if we had won the game which you have to, with what the team produced, you are having a completely different story here today. I'm sorry but I can't allow myself to analyse things like that, I have to look forward in a broader picture and be more reflective.
on what he's expecting...We have to be at our best against the best team in Europe that showed last year what they can do with everything that they have and with the ability that we have as well. We're going to go there as always to win the match and that is going to be our intention tomorrow when we're at Stamford Bridge.
on if this is his biggest week as manager...We have had some big weeks to be fair but always the next one is the most important one, so if you asked me the question it is tomorrow the most important game that I've had since I've been the manager here.
on Lacazette talking to other clubs...He doesn't need to tell me what he does in his own life but he has and we've discussed that and he's entitled to do that. Then has a duty to do his best here.
on whether talks with Lacazette might still happen at the end of the season…That is the agreement that we made with him. That was our position, and our position remains the same - that this is what we are going to do. The risk of that happening was always there since the moment we made that decision. Then it’s up to him because it’s not about us or him, it’s about both parties.
on Eddie Nketiah speaking about his frustration at a lack of opportunities…He is right to be upset. This is what we want from the players that haven’t had the minutes. Especially Eddie, because if there is a player in the dressing room that deserves more chances, that is for sure Eddie.
on whether he is waiting until he knows about our European commitments next season, before speaking to Lacazette about his contract…First of all, it’s not about me, it’s about we, as a club. The decision that we made with individuals, with the collective for the future and how we plan things. We made that decision to understand better and have a clearer picture of what we want to do in the summer. That’s what we decided.
on whether it’s related to European competition, or a budgetary issue…I cannot go into any detail, but there are a few things there.
on whether he feels pressure to play Nketiah, because he’s out of contract in the summer…It’s not about pressure to play him, it’s about trying to put a team there that can win football matches, and you believe that has the best possible chance to win it. Then just pick the players, regardless of the situation. We could have gone for a completely different approach and played him even less or don’t give him any opportunities, or don’t put him in the squad. We have to treat every player with the duty that we have. They are our players, we want to get the best out of them. With Eddie I said many times as well how much I rate him. That the fact that we have big plans for him at this club for the future, and this is where we are today and we have to accept that reality.
on the difference Champions League qualification would make…Champions League brings first of all the club much closer to where we want [to be]. To play in a competition that has a huge history and relation to our club. And secondly, obviously, it improves every situation, with the sponsors, financially, expectations, the capacity to grow our players and expose them into a different dimension of a competition and this is where we want to be, so it’s a game-changer. The Champions League puts you with the best teams in Europe and we definitely want to be there.
on Steve Rowley’s passing…I knew him very well and we had some great moments. He was a big part of this club and how he helped Arsene and Arsenal to develop the teams that they built in the past, so it’s really sad news and we send our love from the club and, on my behalf, to the family and hopefully, he can rest in peace.
on Marcelo Flores’ development…It was great to have him around. We had the chance to bring him in the squad, he’s been training with us regularly through the season. I think he’s developing really, really well, he’s doing well with the under-23s and it’s great to see them closely and for them to start to have some good experiences on matchday with the first team, because it’s how they start to understand what it takes to be a professional player, the pressure around it and start to live those moments, it’s key.
on whether Marcelo should play for Mexico or Canada at the World Cup…This is not my decision! Whatever I think, it doesn’t really matter. He needs to feel it himself and I’m sure he will make the right decision because it will come from his heart.