Monday, October 2, 2023

Every word Mikel Arteta said on Ben White, Zinchenko’s fitness and Smith Rowe’s injury

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The Arsenal boss spoke to the press ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with Brentford at the Brentford Community Stadium.

How does it feel to be manager of the month?

It’s great. It’s a sign that the team is performing well, the team is winning football matches and it’s a consequence of that. Thank you to everyone at the club who contributes to our daily basics and of course to the players who are the ones at the end of the day on the pitch making the difference, and to our supporters. Thank you very much.

Are there any team news updates?

Unfortunately, that day will be tomorrow when we have the last training session. Today there’s not much to give.

Are you worried about a loss of momentum with the stoppages?

What happened was for a really important reason. We are always available to play but there are police, there are authorities and other people who have to make the right decisions. We have adapted our schedule to be as competitive as possible for Sunday like any other team.

I think they are a really good side. What Thomas and the staff have done there, not only this year but over the years, is remarkable. The way they have performed and the results they’ve got against the top clubs, at home in particular, just sets the tone for what is going to happen on Sunday. We are going to have to be at our best to beat them.

Do you have any message after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II?

I think it’s phenomenal what the country has done. I think it shows the level of admiration and respect and the legacy that the Queen has left on the lives of so many. It was very emotional and coming from a different country and culture to see that reaction it’s pretty special. I think it tells you a lot about who she was and what she’s left behind her.

Is the manager of the month a reflection on good recruitment and a good preseason?

It’s a reflection of everything and you can have those two things and still lose football matches and not get the award. At the end of the day, it’s about being consistent and winning the football matches and then putting them into place as much as possible in football games which decides the momentum of a football club.

Can you give us an update on Smith Rowe’s injury?

That’s been an ongoing issue that he’s had. He’s had some discomfort in the groin area and hasn’t had any continuity this season. It’s something we are trying to assess. We’re trying to help him as much as possible in any way we can because we need him fit, we need him available and we need him performing at his best level because he’s such an important player for us. Unfortunately for this period and periods last year we haven’t had him.

Are you surprised by Ben White not getting an England call up and do you worry that him playing right back might affect his chances?

He’s played in both positions, sometimes he’s been selected, sometimes no. I think if you have a versatile player who can play at the level Ben can as both a central defender and fullback, in my opinion, that’s something any manager would want, especially when you go to a tournament where a lot of things can happen. But that’s Gareth’s decision and his coaching staff. What I can tell you is that whenever Ben gets the call he’ll be ready.

Have you been given a reason why Gabriel Jesus wasn’t selected for Brazil?

I haven’t. What I have to do is to convince the players to put their head down, accept the decision of the coach of the national team and give them even more reasons if it’s necessary to tell them why they should be selected. That’s the way the boys reacted and it’s nothing else to comment on.

Would you like to see Arsene Wenger back at the Emirates?

I would love to. I think he has explained it. He has every window and every door available in this football club when he is ready, whenever he feels it’s the right moment to do so. He knows that from my side, he knows that from many people at the football club and hopefully that will happen soon because I think it will inspire and a lot of people are going to be happy to see him out.

Is this more your Arsenal side after last season against Brentford?

This is Arsenal football club, it’s everybody’s club and everybody is contributing in the right way. Obviously, the context has changed and now I have to maintain it as it is for a long time.

How much do you pick a player on form vs trust in what they’ve done before because if you look at it Ben White appears to be in better form than Harry Maguire?

You guys take every time word by word each time we say something. Gareth picks the best team and the best squad that he feels for now, it doesn’t mean that’s going to be the case in November. The squad they have available is incredible and everything we can do to help Ben we’re going to do. I think Ben has given a lot of reasons to be selected and that’s all we can do.

How do you rate Ivan Toney?

I think it’s a great story. This country has had a few stories like this in the past few seasons. It was the same with Jamie Vardy and how that happened I think it’s extraordinary. It means the opportunities are there again for everybody and that it’s just about showing quality, consistency and belief. It can happen at any age and I think it’s a great thing.

Would it happen in Spain or is it a typical English story?

I don’t know. I can’t think of stories like this that have been so successful after that. Maybe it’s something to think about.

What do you make of Thomas Frank?

I think he’s done an excellent job. The clarity of vision that they’ve had and how they’re constantly evolving it, I think they deserve great credit for what they do.

Were you relieved that Brentford goes ahead after the postponements?

We needed to play. We want to play games. When you look at the schedule, especially after the World Cup or what we have to go through after the World Cup or next month we needed to play games.

Is Ben White fit?


Was it a selection issue rather than an injury for him not getting in the England squad then?

Yeah, yeah. He’s fit.

Is anybody definitely ruled out at this stage?

Tomorrow, whoever we have to rule out is going to be tomorrow. We have those 24 hours still to see if one or two can be considered for training and for selection, but that will be key in the next 24 hours.

Is it a chance to create a gap over Chelsea, Liverpool and United not playing?

We have to win our matches and the other games at some stage have to be played. Again seeing the table, where you are and where you want to continue to be, it’s always important because I think emotionally and in terms of belief, it’s healthy.

You used that Ivan Toney tweet ahead of the last Brentford to motivate your players. Will you have something similar this time around?

I haven’t written the script for this one yet. I’m sorry.

Do you think you might use the circumstances for one?

If you have any ideas just give them to me. I’m running out of ideas.

It was a big moment for Marquinhos after the goal. What did you make of his debut?

I was looking more at the faces of the rest of the staff and players. He’s a player that is very popular, with no English. Just with his smile and attitude, he has won the respect and admiration of everybody here. It was a big step for him because he hasn’t played enough minutes with us, but we were willing to give him the opportunity, I think he deserved it and he took it really well. He’s a player who needs to keep developing and in order to do that we have to give him minutes and opportunities.

Will he get a chance in the Premier League soon?

We want to build the steps and when we have asked him to play with the U23s he has done incredibly well. His attitude always by every coach and player has been seen as it cannot be any better. That’s what we expect from the players. That’s why he got the chance against Zurich and he might get another chance very soon.

Is Zinchenko definitely out for Brentford because Ukraine have said he is?

Again, we have to wait until tomorrow to make that decision. Where he was at that moment and what we have decided to do for the international week doesn’t mean that we will decide the same for the weekend. So it’s something we will address tomorrow.

Ben was playing both positions (centre-back and right-back) last season too – he flipped positions in one game away at Chelsea. Did that come naturally to him or was it something you had to talk about over a long period of time?

Not long. Obviously, it needs talking because when you are thinking about doing something to maximise the resources you have in the squad, to have some connections and other options to play the way we want to, you have to have the certainty that the player is happy to do so, that he feels capable of doing it. If not, it’s just a waste of time. That has to go both ways. I had those discussions with Ben, he’s always been very open, I think he’s really enjoying playing in that position. That’s why he’s doing so well. And I think it’s great for him at his age to be able to play in other positions.

With him and Tomiyasu, would it be a case of who suits the opponent more or would it depend on what you want to do as a team?

Both can play central defender as well. Tomi has been playing left centre-back for the Japan national team, when you look at his games he is great. He (Tomiyasu) can play as a left-back because you could not tell if he’s a right or left-footed player. So we have the options there and we have to utilise them in the best possible way, especially with the number of minutes we’re going to have in the next few weeks. It’s great that players are comfortable in more than one position.

Do you see that Toney tweet as a bit of banter or did you find it disrespectful?

Anybody can write whatever they want. I’m here to judge it, to read it if it’s necessary and use it in the way that I feel is most powerful.

Would you be happy if one of your players sent a tweet like that?

I try to have my players act in a certain way and I’m happy with the way they act.

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