Thursday, June 20, 2024

Mikel Arteta faces the media ahead of City return [press conference transcript]

On Wednesday night, Mikel Arteta will face mentor Pep Guardiola for the first time since he quit Manchester City to take over as Arsenal boss.

Having lost to Manchester United on Sunday, the Citizens have, quite remarkably, lost more games than us this season.

The reigning champions are sort of in limbo on the domestic front; too far behind Liverpool to defend their title and with a big enough gap on the clubs behind them to not worry about missing out on the Champions League. Well, unless Uefa’s two-season ban from Europe is upheld.

All the same, we’ve been crap on the road against big clubs in recent years and we’ll definitely have our work cut out securing a first victory at the Etihad since 2015.

Here’s what the boss had to say in his pre-game press conference. Warning, the questions were dangerously boring and the answers equally so.

On returning to Manchester City…

It’s going to be a very special night, I’m excited to go back there. I have some fantastic memories, a lot of friends, a lot of people that I like. But obviously, now I’m in a different position, another bench and I will defend my club as well as I can.

On his knowledge helping him prepare…

It gives me a very clear idea of what they are trying to do, what they are looking to do, something different to be able to stop that and as well to create issues that I think we can create for them. That has to happen on the day. When they are at their best I know what they are capable of doing. The variation they have. At the end of the day, it’s about the players on the pitch performing…

On how the team has evolved since he arrived…

I wasn’t here, I cannot judge what was going on behind the scenes [at Arsenal when the two teams last met]. I know the team I took over and where we are right now. We’ve come a long way and made progress in a lot of areas and there are still a lot of areas to improve a lot of things.

On if he’s still in contact with Pep…

Right now, not yet. They had a game yesterday and I’m sure he’s focused on them. We’re all focused on our own job and it’s enough.

On Lucas Torreira’s ankle injury…

I wouldn’t like to rule him out [for the season]. Lucas is really keen and wanting to play again this season. Whether that’s realistic or not, we’ll know in the next two or three weeks; how the bone is healing, how’s he’s doing with his rehab. At the moment we don’t know for sure.

Other team news…

I think [Cedric and Mustafi] will be available to train, hopefully, everybody is being able to train tomorrow and I’ll pick the squad with the best players we can.

On replicating Manchester United’s win over City…

I think every team is completely different, every game is different. We play away from home, United were playing at home. It was a very competitive game, a good game as well to watch on the tactical side. At the end, the boxes decided the game again, you know.

On games being played behind closed doors because of the threat of coronavirus…

It looks like it’s affecting more and more countries. Hopefully, it won’t affect us but I don’t know how realistic that is. We’re just following what the government has told us, what the club is saying and we just have to adapt to the situation.

On it affecting the players’ routine…

It’s just a few routines that we have to be more careful about; minimal contact and things like that but for the rest we are acting normally.

On being able to beat City…

We’re going to go there and try to beat them, that’s the game plan, for sure. We’ll put all the things on the pitch that we can to make things difficult for them to create the scenarios we want to create during the game. If we turn up on the day at our best and perform then we can win the game.

On his Champions League ambitions…

I don’t know, it’s still a long way to go. We want to go game-by-game. Three weeks ago, it was impossible, now it looks a little bit more possible. But it’s still on our results and our performances.

On City being beatable this season…

Sometimes small details make the difference. I think they’ve been very unlucky in some of the games they lost. I was there when we lost a few and completely dominated the game and lose the game on one or two details. This is football, it can happen.

On Arsenal needing to be at their best…

I think we have to be at our best, for sure. If we have any chance to win the game at the Etihad against those players, we have to be at our best. We are in two different processes and levels at the moment. We have to try and match that both individually and collectively, we have to be at our best.

On Alex Lacazette scoring causing him a headache…

Not just the fact he’s scoring, the way he trains every day, the way he is trying, the way he played even when he wasn’t scoring…he’s always at his best in training, his attitude is top. The same with Eddie [Nketiah], they all have a chance [to play].

On wanting Bukayo Saka to sign a new deal…

The club is doing what it has to do. We’re holding a conversation and hopefully, we’ll get a result.

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Sign up Saka asap.

And beat City please. If United can surely we can…


This is a massive game for Arteta, for so many reasons, and it would be nice if the players played beyond their ability for one night to deliver something unforgettable to and for him. Arteta has done really well at Arsenal thus far considering what he walked into — 8W, 5D, 2L (+11GD) — and I am very excited to see what he can do with the club for the remainder of this season and many to come.


Sorry for being so off topic but I’m genuinely so interested in your thoughts on this hypothetical…

If we were offered £50m for Pepe in the summer, would you take it? 

Thumbs up for yes, down for no 

David C

There’s other ways to make money with this squad. I’d give Pepe at least another year before making a decision.

I think Auba is the big one, if he doesn’t sign in the summer then we have to sell. He should get us at least 50 million and we can buy a lot of Martinelli’s for that moola.


Pepe looks like he could produce decent numbers, but is currently a complete lightweight, but so was Lacazette in his first season.

Hopefully we can toughen him up a bit, sometimes players settle, sometimes they don’t, I don’t think we’re at panic station quite yet though.

I’d be tempted to go with Aubameyang and Pepe down the middle at the Etihad, we’re not going to have much of the ball, and other than Pepe, Saka and Willock, we’ve not really got any ball carriers.


Why would we sell a player who is improving all the times and looks like he will become a sensation. Would you have asked the same question about Pires who took about a season to reach his best.


I don’t know if Pepe will become the world class player we all hope he will. But I do love this constant comparison with Pires for no particular reason.

It’s like when Emery was fading and everyone kept saying “Klopp needed three seasons”. Unfortunately Emery was not Klopp. And Pepe just might not be Pires either.

Naked Cygan

When was the last time you watched an Arsenal game? I am surprised you even know Pires.


I’ve supported Arsenal for over 65 years and had a season ticket for about 40 years so yes I know who Pires was and I was at Wembley to see Arsenal beat Liverpool to win their first double. The last time I watched Arsenal was on Saturday afternoon when they beat West Ham. When was the last time you ever had anything positive about Arsenal. I’ve probably seen more Arsenal games than you will ever see.

Naked Cygan

You are either talking out of your ass about how long you have supported Arsenal, or you suffer from memory loss. You don’t seem to be watching the same games as other fans. You don’t seem to recall the events in the games. For your sake I hope you are talking out of your ass.


Well I’ve supported arsenal for 635 years and been a season ticket holder for 589 of those years. I supported them back when they played their games in the court of Queen Elizabeth I and we played Francis Drake as a false 9. And I think Pepe is probably never going to be a world beater but will become a good Arsenal player ala Antonio Reyes or Galileo Galilei.

Naked Cygan

You can predict the future all you want, and that is your opinion. What I have a problem is with people like Martin who don’t watch the games, then come here and argue with you that Xhaka had an amazing game after the videos, replays, stats, and facts don’t support it. Basically in his book of you criticize or complain about a player, or Arsenal FC, for some reason you are not a fan?? Watch the fking games Martin.


You’re a toxic moron and have the audacity to call me a liar. I’ve never known you make a positive comment about the club you claim to support. Is there any player you actually like or have we to endure your negative rants continually even when the team is showing a distinct improvement. Yes I realise we have a way to go before we are challenging Liverpool or Man City and yes I also realise we need new players but you constantly target everyone no matter it they have played well. I’ve watched every match this season and have criticised… Read more »


I concur with the other comments on here, I think offloading him now would be massively premature, especially doing it at a loss.

He might not have set the world alight yet, but he’s clearly talented and seems to be gradually improving as the season goes on. If he bulks up a bit and improves his decision making/final ball, he could be devastating.


A draw would probably be a decent return as long as we can then go on to beat Brighton and Norwich in the next two.

Guns Up

I’d take those seven points in a heartbeat. I believe that would have us right there for a top 4 or 5 finish heading into the run-in. United’s form is a bit of a worry right now, but everyone else is there to be had, in my opinion.

Man Manny

The surprising thing for me is that Man U have beaten them three times out of four this season!
A positive mindset and sensible football can give us a good result at the Etihad.
No fears.

Up North

I watched the Manu-City game yesterday. Without Kevin deBruyne City dom’t play well against a low defence and they’re pretty vulneravle on the counterattack. ManU has used this recipe twice and won. But they have developed a rock solid defence now with proper full- backs when we’re using makeshift players and Maguire is better than any of our CB’s, Without Torreira we lack the shield before the defensive line also. But om the counterattack we’ve plenty of firepower, Pepe is made for the counterattack. And other teams have won with this type of tactics. I would go for that in… Read more »


And how is Maguire better than any of our CBs?


Really liking more and more of Striaght talker Arteta, and not only just his ability of the training grounds


United had a very good match against City last Sunday. We should be paying heed to what they did. One player up top in Martial who was excellent. Also Bruno Fernandes a supeb signing in January (the wort of resolve we have not seen from our transfer team) to get back into prime time. They played on the break mainly with 37% possession but they were very quick and incise with their transitions and caught City napping. City do not have a water tight backline so hopefully Arteta can use his inside knowledge of the players and exploit it. BUT… Read more »

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