Transcript: Arteta talks Sambi, Tomi & Saka ahead of north London derby

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In the second half of Friday’s press conference, Mikel Arteta was pressed on the readiness of his new recruits for Sunday’s clash with Sp*rs. 

Leaning on his own experience of the Rangers versus Celtic derby, which he experienced when he was barely out of his teens, the boss said he trusts his players even if they haven’t yet experienced such an occasion.
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On Sambi Lokonga being ready for a north London derby…

He already played one, it was a friendly, but he played really well. That was one of the days, well one of the other days because we’d already spoken to his former coaches that we got the feedback that he has a big personality to play in any game. He was already captain of Anderlecht, that doesn’t happen by coincidence. He’s fully ready to play. 

On Arteta being only 20 when he played the Glasgow derby and what that was like…

Everybody talks and when I walked through Glasgow people would try to explain what it means for our supporters, people, the manager, the players. Then when you’re in that stadium and it’s rocking and the pressure is on, it’s a different beast. You have to experience it, you have to go through it and enjoy it because it’s a great game to play. 

On that being the message for Lokonga…

He knows what to expect. He played some big games in Belgium. We are here and believe [our games] are always special but there he’s played some big games and we will try to acknowledge what he will find on the pitch. He will be ready. 

On there not being many Japanese or Korean players who’ve done well in the Premier League…

Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because they’ve not had many opportunities. I don’t know. With Tomi [Takehiro Tomiyasu], we made a decision [to sign him] because we all believed he had the right qualities, personally, professionally to fit in with our culture, our way of playing and we made the decision because we were fully convinced he could bring those qualities to our club. 

Whether Tomiyasu’s qualities are physical…

And technical. And his focus and his determination and the way he trains every day and the experiences he’s already had at 22-years-old. There are a lot of factors in there to make a big decision to bring a player to our club. 

On whether you can teach a new player to play a north London derby or if you have to learn on the job…

It’s very tough to put him in the right situation, you can show him images, you can talk about it but then you have to experience it, like any other game. You have to live it and go there with the determination and passion to enjoy a big game and do what you’re able to do. And control the things that you do well on the pitch that give you reassurance. 

On how long it’ll take for Arsenal to change the narrative about whether they lack fight…

Every time we’re on the pitch we have to do it for ourselves because we know it’s a basic principle to compete in any game in the Premier League and to get the results that we want and, hopefully, afterwards people will be convinced that we are able to do that. We’ve done it in the past since I’ve been here with other managers. We’ve got to keep that belief that we are able to do it and then it becomes something normal. 

On his side having reference points – Martin Keown, Patrick Vieira etc. – from previous generations of Arsenal players…

It’s another generation of fantastic players. They created a history in those clashes, it was different the way of acting, the relationship between players, it was phenomenal to watch. I didn’t experience it but it was phenomenal to watch from the outside because it was all about passion and competing with each other. 

On Bukayo Saka’s form since the Euros…

I think it was an incredible experience for him and he made the most out of it. He’s in a good place. He was catching up physically because he didn’t have a pre-season, but I think he’s in a really good condition right now. He finished the game pretty strong against Burnley, he came on the other day [against AFC Wimbledon] and he looked in good shape. He’s such a happy, humble and lovable boy. We want to help him as much as possible. 

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Merlin’s Panini

For the first time for a while I have no idea who might win this NLD. I look at our first choice 11 and see a very good group of players. If there’s a game we could do with them really clicking, this is it. A win could galvanise our season

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

I’m super confident about this one, but that might change when the lineup is out.

goonshow

yeah – I just think about the bond it will create with these kids if they can really DO Spuds today… a 3-goal spanking. It will become one of those instantly unforgettable days and will cement them as a battling unit.

Get there in lads!!!!

GG Gunners

Ayee, we really did give them 3 gosl spanking

Goonshow

I’m off to the casino – IMMEDIATELY!

T.A.

I have a feeling that Xhaka will start alongside Partey. Our super talented young squad needs several experienced heads on the field to keep them focused. Aside from Xhaka and Partey we also have Auba. I trust Auba and Partey but not Xhaka. Are two experienced heads enough considering our manager is also a novice?

Badaab

Xhaka might be experienced but he’s certainly not level headed or trustworthy, and his lack of focus could really be a hindrance.
It’s partey and sambi for me.

Daveo

I am at least encouraged that arteta is praising lokonga and talking about him maybe playing this one. Fingers crossed that we do. I think that duo could be something special in midfield abs a force for us moving forward.

Man Manny

On the contrary, I think Arteta praising Lokonga means he’s not playing.
He did it a lot with Martinelli when everyone was clamouring for him last season.
He’ll praise him to the high heavens and then bench him.

goonshow

Please lord in your blue heaven… no Xhaka today!

PeteyB

In the way Chelski have played Kante, Kovacic and Jorginio, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that all 3 would start in a 433. Partey in the centre with Laconga and Xhaka to the right and left respectively. I don’t expect it, nor would I be particularly excited by it, but it is a possibility that may give a good degree of physicality and solidity. Laconga and Partey do both have the capacity to carry the ball forward. The hypothetical front three ahead of them would be hard to select. Maybe some combination of Auba, Odegaard ans Saka/Pepe… The… Read more »

C.B.

Lokonga over Xhka please.

And we need more attacking threat on the pitch.

A Different George

In reality, I think the choice for Arteta will be our Burnley starting 11 or Xhaka and Partey both holding, with Smith Rowe (or maybe Saka, as Blogs thinks) sitting. I think the likelihood that Sambi starts is very low. My guess is Xhaka and Partey in a 4-2-3-1, rather than the 4-3-3 (or 4-1-4-1) that we saw at Burnley.

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

Please no Xhaka, PLEASE.

Qwaliteee

Mate, you know it’s going to happen.

The return of the Toblerone Turd.

Man Manny

Arteta’s media skills is up there with the best. Near flawless communication skills if you ask me. My only worry is that his main brief is not the PR job. The jury is still out concerning His management. I saw Brentford stand toe to toe with Liverpool yesterday, and I couldn’t help wondering if Arteta could marshall this team to put in such a shift against them. Then I recalled the football lessons at the Emirates last season. I also saw Villa outplay United at Old Trafford; we’ll need to be at our very best to beat Villa when we… Read more »

TheArseEnd

Off topic but Bruno’s missed penalty at Old Trafford is hilarious. A miss 100% created by Emi’s gold class shithousery. Telling Ronaldo that he should be taking the penalties while Bruno is waiting to take one. Absolutely brilliant.

I have a feeling this is more of what Ramsdale will be bringing to our team over Leno.

T.A.

Did Emi really say that to Ronaldo? That is brilliant

Mehdi

Looks like Xhakas is going to play. Let’s hope for Switzerland Xhaka, not Arsenal Xhaka.

Qwaliteee

😂

You’d better phone up the Swiss coach then and ask him to give the pre match team talk.

DPK

Can we please stop with this myth that Swiss Xhaka is miles better than Arsenal Xhaka. Switzerland are a good team, but not a top level team. Xhaka is a good player, but not a top level player, for them too, the same as he is for us. The difference in perception is that we expect Arsenal to be top level, but nobody expects Switzerland to be….so it’s ok for him to be an automatic first choice for them. It shouldn’t be for us

Qwaliteee

Erm…..can we stop with this myth that Xhaka is a good player…………………?

DPK

Well he is a good player…good enough for a team who are serious about getting back in the top 4 ? No, of course not….we should have sold him in the summer when we had the chance. You’re one who has consistently blamed Arteta for not getting performances out of him that he gives for Switzerland…so isn’t that you actually admitting he is a good player too ??

Qwaliteee

No it isn’t.

I said that the Swiss manager gets more out of Xhaka than Arteta.

And I’ve said that by and large we currently have a good squad who are not being used properly.

At no time have I EVER said that Xhaka is a good player.

DPK

Fair enough. I’ll give you that one. Still not true though that the Swiss manager gets more out of him, as I said I think it’s a myth.

A Different George

Did you actually watch Switzerland v France? That’s where the perception comes from.

DPK

I did. He was great in that game. He also played 3 other matches – 2 where he was just ok & 1 where he was awful. (v Italy) The France game was his last game in the tournament & as is often the way, people talk about his euros performances as if that was the whole tournament for him, when it wasn’t.

Abdullah Bakar

Be positive and hope for the best. A win will boost our team confidence and bring swagger to our play. I hope we lit this derby with goals but 3points the most important thing. Xhaka or no xhaka let’s pray for the boys to have a very good game

Nostalgic Gooner

At the start of each relationship, the conversation flows. You find them funny, charming and intelligent, longing and straining to hear each intonation of their voice. Then after the few fights, the ups and downs, all you get is monotony. What was intelligent now sounds contrived, the words platitudes and cliches. At that point, you just want to tune everything out.

Qwaliteee

Beautifully put.

Keni

Arteta’s response at times gives the impression that he just expects the players to know what to do. Like “he knows what to expect. He has played a few big games in Belgium…” Man, this is the North London derby, against the tiny tots. They don’t play it in Belgium man.

Daveo

He’s played in the Belgium “classic” (against standard) and ‘the topper’ (against brugge). Rivalries, like most else in life, actually exists outside England. Crazy I know.

A Different George

To add to this, think of Tierney and playing for Celtic or Rangers–the pressure on the players, the complete, total attention of the country’s sports universe, the focus of the entire city for a week. (And if you were a player coming from Belgrade, I bet the NLD would seem pretty mild.)

WayBackWhen

Thinking about potential changes and additions for the CM berths next year, this gossip caught my eye:

“Chelsea are willing to sell 30-year-old France midfielder N’Golo Kante next summer.”

Before I could stop myself, I internally mused ‘he could be interesting’.

Fortunately my better angels intervened with a ‘wtf – have you learned nothing about aging Chelski players!?’

Somebody shoot me.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Great player but 31 next summer, I wouldn’t bother with that. Partey, Xhaka, Elneny in that same position are all creeping up to 30 so I suspect we’ll be looking to average the age down next summer.

This Chelsea-to-Arsenal bad rep is over exaggerated due to Willian.

We almost won the league with Gallas in 2008 and Cech in 2016, Luiz came in and steadied the ship and won an FA Cup.

And then there’s of course George Graham, well worth a mention on this NLD day.

WayBackWhen

Good shout.

Arseman

Arteta: He’s in a Good Place
Saka: holy forking shirtballs, THIS is the Bad Place

Jokes aside, let’s show all other teams that coming to the Emirates would be “the bad place” for them
COYG!