Mikel Arteta faced the media in the post-match press conference, including Layth Yousif, following the Gunners 3-1 victory over Manchester United.
The manager spoke about his pride in the performance, what Declan Rice has brought to the club, gave an update on Thomas Partey’s fitness, and looked ahead to the international break.
Read on for a full transcript of his press conference…
On if the game went according to plan:
Exactly like that, yep. I told them yesterday that was going to happen. I didn’t want to tell the crowd so there was a bit of emotion there!
On how he feels:
Great. We all worked so hard and plan everything to live moments like this. Those moments are going to stick with us. To see the crowd so connected with the team again and celebrate in a big match like today with the history of this clash is something great, so very happy.
On not having the perfect performance:
No, especially the goal that we give away. We talked about losing the ball inside the first two passes - against this team you are kaput. We did it again. In the second half, they could’ve scored, but it was overturned. For the rest of the game, the win, the determination, the eagerness of the team, the way we showed that will to win and that mentality to go and go and go, I’m so proud of.
On scoring late goals:
I prefer Bukayo to put it in the back of the net much earlier, as well as all the other chances we had! But, if it doesn’t happen that way, it has to happen another way and a team needs different tools to win football matches. We needed the capacity to react, which I think we did really well in the first half with the way we scored the goal. That made the difference and I think that set the tone as well and gave some confidence to the team, so really good.
On Declan Rice’s performance:
I think a tremendous performance. When you look at a holding midfielder and how he needs to dominate his area and the pressing that is needed. How he breaks up play, how he glues the team together in many moments when it was stretching a little bit. He was really dominant and then produced a magic moment to win the game, so I’m really happy with him.
On Declan’s mentality:
We did it yesterday, but yesterday your heart rate is at 80 and today it’s at 190, so to produce the same level of quality when the pressure is on in that moment is just unique. You need to have that quality and that composure and he showed it today.
On his leadership in the dressing room:
Very natural. He’s a great kid. I think he’s got a good mixture between being extremely demanding with everybody and himself and then a bit of banter as well. Being around the boys and the staff in a really humble way, I think he’s fitted in brilliantly.
On whether Rice can add more goal involvements to his game:
For sure and when you see the technical ability that he has and how executed it in this moment, his range when he’s shooting from range, his accuracy, the power that he generates with no space, with both legs, he can do it with both feet. He’s got the timing to arrive in the box, the position will determine a lot with how many goals he will score because at the end it’s about how consistent you are arriving there.
On the importance of keeping the momentum early on in the season:
For every team, the competition for every team is like game one, if you don’t win the first one, the second one, the third, there’s still 34 games to go. So just focus on the game, play with more naturality and the result will come, if you deserve it in the end, after 38 games you will be where you deserve and we can only focus on that because it’s still very, very early.
On Thomas Partey’s injury:
I don’t know, unfortunately he got an injury in training and it doesn’t look good, we need some more tests, we believe he’s going to be out for weeks. We think it’s a groin but can be something in between.
On the performance level of the team heading into the international break:
Very happy, we play four games, we deserve to win four games, it could’ve be very different but the margins that we are arriving at the late stages of the game doesn’t reflect what the team has done before, there are things that are still in our control that we can do better, and the team will try to progress and evolve in that direction to close games earlier and win them easier.
On whether Fabio Vieira could start in the next match…
Every player has a chance to do that, today we decided to start with Kai, we knew that Fabio would have a big impact especially in the last few minutes, or final minutes if we needed something and something has changed with Fabio, you notice with the crowd when he steps in he is different to how he was last year, he’s more mature, he’s more senior in the squad and his confidence in the squad is high so I’m really happy to have those options.