Before heading up to Merseyside ahead of our game against Everton on Saturday afternoon, Mikel Arteta held his pre-match press conference at London Colney.
The journalists in attendance threw plenty of questions to him, wanting to know more about our January business, injury updates, Gabriel Martinelli’s new contract and his evaluation of Sean Dyche being in the opposite dugout at Goodison Park.
Here is everything the boss had to say on those subjects, and more:
on Martinelli’s new contract:
It’s great news. We want to build all the talent and youth that we have in the squad, so it’s great to see them happy and willing to commit to the club and what we want to do for the future. He’s a player with enormous potential – he still has so many things to improve but he’s already performing at a really high level.
on Martinelli’s biggest area of growth:
In all departments. He can develop physically. He can develop mentally. He can develop in terms of consistency. He can develop defensively. He can develop in the final third and in the spaces that he occupies. His numbers can be improved, and he’s so willing. That’s the best thing about Gabi.
on any update on Saka and Saliba contracts:
Part of the plan is to extend the contracts of our biggest talents at the club and commit them for the future. We are trying to do that. We have started with Gabi, which is good news. The others will be done whenever we can, but we have to agree on that.
on whether there will be any problems with players committing their future to Arsenal:
I see everybody really happy, really willing to continue at the club. We have to meet everybody’s expectations and timing is key on that.
on Thomas Partey’s fitness:
Let’s see – that one is still a doubt. Let’s see today how he comes in and if he’s able to train with the team or not. We will make a decision on that.
on whether he is ruled out:
He’s not ruled out and it’s nothing very significant but it was significant enough to get him out of the [Manchester City] game, which for Thomas is unusual. Hopefully he will be fine.
on Jorginho signing and when Arteta first targeted him:
Many years ago. We knew that in this market, you have to adapt and you have to be flexible. You have to be ready for inconvenience. We had one with the latest news on Mo’s injury and we needed a player in that position. He’s a player I’ve always admired. He’s a great character and he’s someone who is going to bring leadership and quality in that position. He’s going to help the team a lot.
on how quickly it happened – and if the deal was identified on Sunday and Monday:
Timing-wise, it wasn’t that late. But he’s a player who has always been very close to our intentions to bring him in.
on if Emile Smith Rowe will be available:
on Sean Dyche being appointed Everton manager:
They have tried to accommodate the right character for the circumstance the club is in. What Sean and the coaching staff did at Burnley speaks for itself. With the limited resources they had, they got incredible results very consistently in this very tough league. I like the character a lot, the presence and the clarity he brings to his team. Hopefully after tomorrow, he will be a great fit for Everton.
on if it will be a tough test mentally tomorrow:
We have the experience in the last few years about how tough it has been, and we didn’t get the results that we wanted. When there is a new manager the environment will change, and a lot of things change during the week, so it’s going to be a really tough test.
on how he assesses the January window:
It’s been a really tricky one but I think at the end, it’s been a really positive one. I think we had three main key areas of positions that we wanted to improve and fulfil, and we’ve done it. In Leo, we’ve brought in a player who already knows the league and has performed at a great level, and has the versatility that we needed, and adds quality and a goal threat in the squad, especially after the injury with Gabi [Jesus].
With Jakub, he is a young talent with incredible potential that is going to help redefine our way of playing, and we didn’t have a backup centre-back for the whole season, and with Jorginho, he is a player that speaks for himself. When you look at his CV, his playing record, his quality – I think we’ve made some really good decisions there.
As well we have offloaded three players – Sambi needed time and games to develop the talent that he has, and I think in Palace we have found the right club with the right coaching staff as well so we believe that will work out. With Marquinhos he needed minutes and it is going to be a really tough but really good test for him to play in that league with a great club, and with Cedric he was demanding minutes and it was difficult to promise that to him. He is a player we all love and it has been a difficult decision to let him go, but we have to respect his will to play.
on if there are now no excuses for us not winning the league now:
If you want to put it that way, that’s fine! What we have to do is train really well and win, and play well to win. That’s the only thing we can do. We cannot play every player that we have in the squad, we have to pick 11 and then the substitutes.
on if the high level of spending in the window is good for football:
Well it is the context that we live in, and on our side we had the possibility to do certain things we didn’t do in the summer, and we are always willing to improve the squad. I think this squad is still in a moment where we cannot waste any opportunity to evolve it, in a way whether that is to give players minutes, or to improve and give more depth to the squad, and I think every team tries to do the same. That’s why it’s so competitive.
on how much the team has improved in three years since he watched us draw 0-0 at Everton:
Yeah it has been a while, and a lot has happened since then. We are in a much better position than we were in at the time, but we haven’t won there for the last few years so that is the test tomorrow.
on what he likes about Jorginho:
His intelligence, his personality, his leadership skills, the way he understands our way of playing, and the quality he has to implement that in football matches. He’s a player who will fit in really well with what we want to do.
on whether he fits the profile of our recent signings:
Yes, and then you have to adapt to the circumstances that we had. Obviously the significant injury to Mo meant we had to have a plan behind him. That probably wasn’t the case before the injury happened, but we have adapted and we have improved the squad.
on whether Elneny’s contract will be extended:
Our way of treating people, living together and what we expect from people is to give the maximum. And when things are the other way around and things become difficult, I think the club has to behave in the right way. We have some really good examples of that, and we have to continue to do that.
on whether he got the players he wanted in January:
I’m really happy with what we’ve done. For what you plan and what you can actually do in this industry, normally that doesn’t happen, so you have to mould and adapt. We’ve done that and the most important thing is the profile of the person, and the quality that we bring in makes us better, and I’ve no doubt that we have done that.
on if Kiwior and Vieira will get the minutes they need:
If they train really well and play really well, I guarantee they will have the minutes. The other guys had the minutes, but to develop sometimes you need to have a different position, a different environment and sometimes we have to know that.
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