Mikel Arteta faced the gathered media from the UK and Norway this afternoon to preview tomorrow’s Europa League group game against Bodo/Glimt.
The boss was asked his thoughts about our opponents, opportunities for some of the squad and contract renewals, among other things. Here is everything he had to say:
on facing Bodo/Glimt:
We’ve done our homework. Obviously, we have made the players aware of the team that we are facing tomorrow, the history and what they’ve done in the last few years, and we have Martin in the squad who knows them really well and he’s done his homework in the dressing room to understand that tomorrow is going to be a tough game.
on rotating our squad:
That’s what we have to try and do [keep our momentum going]. The best way to do that is how we prepare every single day, keep focused on the task and on everything that we’re doing well, and keep being humble. There are a lot of things that we still need to improve and keep that willingness every time to become better every single day and to raise the competition between the members of the squad, because now everyone wants to play the game tomorrow.
on new deals for Saliba, Saka and Martinelli:
Obviously, we have to plan for the future and we are all working on it. Edu is on top of it and all of the board and we’ll try to do things in the right way, being fair, and trying to plan the best possible way and reward the players that in our opinion have a big future for the club. When we have something to announce, we will do that.
on ensuring players aren’t left with one year left on their contracts:
I don’t know [if those days are in the past], every player is different and what happened in the past, I’m sure the people that were in charge had the right reasons or tried something that was beneficial for the club. We will try to do the same thing and make sure that the club is always protected, that the club is always in a good position to move forward and that the players are happy to be here.
on Bodo/Glimt’s level compared to our opponents this season:
on how he prioritises the Europa League:
It’s a competition that is really important for us, we know how important it is to be on top of that group. We have tough competition, and the home advantage so we have to use it. That’s why tomorrow’s game is really important for us.
on the Bodo players that he fears:
There are a few really good players and it’s a really good coach as well, and they have a clear identity with how they play. You can see straight away what they are trying to do and again I’ve been impressed with them.
on Thomas Partey:
He hasn’t had the consistency over the past few months, obviously with the injuries he’s been through. He’s been in and out and he did it – a big performance like that [against Tottenham]. He contributed to the team in an exceptional way and we are really happy with his performance.
on Partey’s injury now:
He’s looking fine. He needs to play regularly and find consistency at that level.
on whether it’s problematic that Man City’s physio will know about Martin Odegaard’s health:
No, I think it’s really common that staff – whether it’s physio, doctors or fitness coaches – work for national teams as well. Nowadays football is so connected, we all know each other, someone has worked with someone somehow so the information is always there available if you want to try to find it.
on whether players used to playing on artificial grass would make any difference as a potential transfer target:
I don’t know, you put it the other way around, the players that are used to playing on Desso pitches, which is what we use, and then have to play on artificial. It’s a difference and it takes a while to adapt. So I imagine, I don’t know for sure, but the other way around it’s a bit similar.
on what Martin Odegaard has told him:
We just spoke about what I saw. I will do the same with the staff, and he was really clear. He said exactly the same opinion and he said tomorrow will be a really tough match.
on whether this is a big opportunity for Reiss Nelson:
After the spell that he had last year on loan, we wanted him back to see if there are any changes and there’s a prospect that we can really take to the next level. We think the potential is there and we think we’ve seen something in Reiss that is special. He’s been a part of our academy system and now he’s going to have an opportunity. He’s been out for almost three months with an injury, he’s back now, he’s fully fit and he’s ready to play. He just needs minutes now.
on whether he can follow a similar path to Smith Rowe, who also suffered with injuries:
That’s what he needs to do and now he needs to show that on the pitch. His attitude and the way he’s matured and evolved over the past year or so has been really impressive, I think everybody is talking about it and now he needs to do it on the pitch.
on Martin Odegaard’s leadership role in the team:
I think that when he talks everybody listens to him, which is a really important quality. It’s true that he’s not the loudest probably, but he’s someone that leads with example every single day and he’s always doing the right things.
He’s really humble, he’s trying to help everybody, he puts the team in front of him and he has huge love and passion for this game, which I really like, and he wants to improve. He wants to drive these boys as quick and as fast as possible and we believe that he’s the right person to represent the values that we have at the club.
on whether the Europa League is a help or a hindrance:
It’s a help. Playing in Europe is always great and tomorrow I think we’re going to have a great atmosphere again at the Emirates. We want to produce those nights and we know that we want to be playing yesterday and today, but at the moment it’s our reality and we have to accept it. It’s part of our next step.
on playing three games in one week:
It’s a test for the squad in terms of the numbers and the quality that you have when you make changes and how much you notice that. At the same time, it’s about how you are able to consistently play at the highest level and demand that of yourself and be successful doing it.
It’s not something that we did last season and it’s something we will have to do this year for different reasons, but I think everybody is going to have to be able to do that after the World Cup, especially with the scheduling that we have.