Every word Mikel Arteta just said on Willian, Martinelli, Smith Rowe’s injury and Leicester win


Would you say that’s your best performance of the season?

I don’t know but I’m certainly happy with the performance of the team and again the character and composure that we showed. Coming here after a very short turnaround from Benfica and going down very early puts the game in a really difficult position against a Leicester team. We had some really good moments in the game, we looked really solid, we dominated the game and I think overall we deserved the win.

This is your first time against a team in the top three in the Premier League since 2015.

Yeah, for me it’s not only about that. It’s how we play against opponents of top quality and just improve ourselves. Try to be all the time us and have the courage to do it against top quality players. I’m proud obviously of the way we won but also the way we’ve done it.

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Willian was very good today?

Yeah he was very good. We’ve seen that in training over the last few weeks. I think he’s revealing himself, he’s not accepting the situation. I think he was the player who changed the game against Benfica in the last few moments when he came on. And today I think he was terrific, the same with the senior players, Laca I think the way he played, Nico he grew in the game and had a big impact. And Granit, a player who has played that many minutes to play with the heart and the passion he showed in every action I think it’s a good example for the rest of the players.

How do you build on the last week?

Every game is going to be different so what we did today is not going have a knock-on effect on the next Premier League game. I think the team is clearly improving and taking a direction that I like. All the time I say it’s about the consistency. We’re still giving things to the opponent. We did it against Benfica, we did it today against a more dangerous team in short transitions. That’s something we have to eradicate to give ourselves the best possible chance. Everything I see attitude wise what we are creating as a group and the way we are playing within our model it looks much closer to what we want.

Are you concerned about Smith Rowe’s injury?

Yeah I’m concerned because for Emile to come out and say I cannot continue playing it should be something. It’s something related to his hip, I don’t know how bad it is but he was in a good place after the game.

Was it a gamble to make so many changes?

Yeah probably people will see it as a gamble but I see them train every day. If they are playing it’s because they deserve to play. I think players have to feel supported and valued and the only way to do that is to play them. I had a good feeling that anything could happen but the performance level they showed is not just a coincidence, the way they have prepared themselves and the way they prepare themselves every day.

How important has Xhaka been on this run?

You see. If you have to put an example on that pitch about character and going for every single ball with that determination probably that’s him. He’s played more minutes than anybody else but he keeps going even when he’s so tired and tries to help the team in the right way. And the same with David, for someone like him at his age to play again it was tough but he showed real attitude, he wanted to play and that’s the best way to approach every game.

How important was it to capitalise on the chances before half-time?

Yeah we have to be clinical. We lost two games against Wolves and Aston Villa. When you look back you ask how the hell we lost them. We lost them because we gave something to the opponent and when we had the chances to kill them in the game we didn’t. The margins are not that big in the Premier League but the way the team is evolving I think now we have some consistency in recent months.

Is Martinelli’s knee injury something that you’re considering when not bringing him on?

He needs to keep working and make things difficult for us. He’s a player who is going to give us a lot but he needs some time and we need to find the right games for him, the right connections with him on the pitch to do what he can do best. The way he is and the way he trains every day he’s going to be a really important player for us. When you have many options sometimes it’s difficult when you look for certain qualities in certain games.

How concerned are you with the physical effects the season is taking on the players?

I think it’s absolutely normal that it’s happening. That’s why we needed to change player because if not we were going to expose our players to getting injured. But sometimes we don’t have a chance as a manager because we don’t have enough players or you have a necessity to win and play them again. But it’s insane. The amount of minutes and games the players are playing without pre-season and a break. You’re going to get injured. We talked about it with the other managers at the start of the season and it’s happening.





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