Every word from Mikel’s pre-Sporting CP presser | Press conference | News

Minutes after landing in Portugal, Mikel Arteta was kidnapped for his press conference ahead of Thursday night’s game against Sporting CP.

At the Estadio Jose Alvalade, the manager answered questions from the media including his selections, Gabriel Jesus’ return to training and what we could expect from our opponents.

Here’s all he had to say:

to team news:
There will be news about the squad tomorrow. We’ve brought a few players and you’ll see who’s available tomorrow.

on whether Nketiah and Trossard could be fit for the weekend:
Let’s see how they develop, obviously we’ve had a few issues the past few days. We’re trying to be fair to everyone and get everyone in the best possible shape for tomorrow.

about the fact that there is no separate league team and no cup team:
Because we have a team and we have to play all the games with the best possible players in order to win them. At the moment we have made eight changes [in the competition] So we try to adapt. Also, players have moments in the season when they are available or not available and tomorrow it will be the same case, but we will definitely try to put together the most competitive team to win the game.

about players getting frustrated with not getting game minutes:
Everyone wants to play, it’s true that we wanted to rotate certain players but they were injured and unavailable and that could be the case again tomorrow. Sometimes it’s difficult, but players have to earn it, play the minutes and being fair in football is very difficult. You have to be really good at communicating your decisions and getting the players to understand what they’re doing, but at the end of the day you have to care about what’s best for the team. We want everyone to feel important and we will try to make them feel that way.

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to players struggling with illness:
These things happen throughout the season – sometimes they happen four days before a game, sometimes a day before. We will take care of it today and tomorrow and everyone will be in the best possible condition to start.

If we approach this game differently now, we’re in a title race:
Our priority are the two competitions. Of course we have to earn the right to continue in this competition to get as far as we want and tomorrow we’ll face a really tough opponent. The best way to prepare for a competition is to win the previous game and have the confidence and right emotion to tackle the next game. If we can play well tomorrow and win the game, we will prepare better for the next game.

on rumors of Real Madrid’s interest in him:
Managers or players cannot control what is written, but I can tell you that I am totally focused on what I am doing here. I am very happy, proud and grateful to be at this football club.

on his trust in Gabriel Martinelli to become our main striker:
We have different options with different qualities and different profiles to play in this position, of course with the absence of Eddie, and Leo in particular. We have to see and adjust what our opponent is going to do and with the relationships we have on the pitch what is the best we can do.

on reuniting with Hector Bellerin:
I absolutely love the person and the player. He was a really important player for our club, one who not only left a legacy as a career but also as a person at our football club. It will be great to see him tomorrow and I’m sure the boys and team will be very happy to see him again.

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on resisting the temptation to push back Gabriel Jesus:
We’ll try not to push him back, we’ll try to strike a fair balance between what he needs and when he’s comfortable and give the team the boost it will need over the next few weeks. Everything is going well, he needs time to build up confidence and physical fitness to compete with a free spirit and if he’s able to we’ll throw him in.

how Kieran Tierney dealt with not playing:
Very good because we discussed the situation and we had a very similar position. He knows his role – he’s played a lot under me, probably more than any other player, including the previous players who have been at the club over the last three years. He understands the situation and needs to challenge the situation.

on player versatility, which helps them make choices while rotating:
We have to because we don’t know whether some players will last 60, 70 or 90 minutes. We’ve got to be really good at maintaining the quality and balance in the team, as well as the danger of being as competitive as possible in the 95 or 96 minutes that the game is going to last.

about Emile Smith Rowe:
He’s fine, he trained really well and was very happy that the team won [last weekend] and to the next.

whether Fabio Vieira will be fine tomorrow:
Fabio is okay, yes.

when he tapped into Fabio’s knowledge of Sporting:
That was definitely the first thing we did because it’s great to have the knowledge and understanding of someone from the country who knows and has the manager [international] teammates. It’s always very useful and he spoke really high.

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on Sporting’s tactical flexibility:
The variety, the options and the change in formations they can make and also within that form, the profile of the players, especially the full-backs, change their behavior. We know that, and by the time we have the lineups, we’re going to have a few question marks as we try to understand what they’re going to do.

for team cohesion:
Team spirit always helps, but to win tomorrow we have to do our best and play really well, compete really well, understand the game and manage the game really well. It’s easy here, but we have to make it on this pitch tomorrow night.

Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted on condition that appropriate credit is given to as the source.

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