Saturday, November 27, 2021

Arteta on Arsenal’s young blood, new energy, top-four ambitions and avoiding old mistakes

In the second part of his pre-Liverpool press conference, Mikel Arteta was asked what drove the decision to freshen up his squad, how he thinks his youngsters will fare under pressure and why he’s happy that people are talking about Arsenal as top-four contenders once again.

Here’s what he had to say…

On whether his first test at Arsenal was to change the energy at the club…

It was one of the main things obviously. When I took the job, there were a lot of difficulties on that. We had one, even bigger, that was expected, our stadium was going to be empty for the next 18 months. That intention became impossible to achieve. Now, I see a big change and the impact that has on the team and the performances of the players, it’s huge. We can see that every time we are playing at the Emirates and when we’re playing away from home because of the support that we’re getting. It just raises the level of our team.

On allowing jaded players to leave and bringing in young blood…

The decisions that we made were for two reasons. One, because we wanted a healthy, competitive and winning mentality in the dressing room, that’s first. And the second one is because we wanted to improve the quality at the specificity of the players and the team that we want to play as and our game. Based on that, we made a decision, whether they are 23 or 33, we have some good examples of senior players who keep performing who are hugely important for the team and they contribute to what we want to do in a big way. Those decisions were based on those two factors.

On whether he’s worried about high expectations being placed on young shoulders…

We cannot change it. For me, it’s not about the age of the player, whether he’s 19, 20 or 21 and whether he can cope, it’s the age of the group that we have in my hands. They’ve not experienced anything, we’ve been together for two and a half months since the window closed. The group doesn’t have experience [together], the experience that they are living now has been quite positive since they came together but they need maturity and hopefully, it’ll come. We cannot suspect how they are going to react because they haven’t experienced, so it’s not about the individual it’s about the group, what we can achieve.

On whether his group can handle talk of a top four finish…

For me, this is positive. It means there’s excitement, that they want to push us and this job is about being the best, not about fourth. That mentality and that drive is because of our history and that history has to be all the time present to achieve the biggest targets. If not, you don’t have the mentality to play for this club. That’s the demands, whether we can achieve it or not, we’ll see what we can do but the level and the objective has always to be the highest.

On accepting dips in form because his side is young…

It can happen, [or] maybe not. There’s no guarantee that it’s not going to happen with another profile of player, because it has happened. It’s what we have. We’ll try to prepare the team the best possible way, individually, collectively so that it doesn’t have. When it happens, it’s part of any process and any team in the world. It’s not just Arsenal, anybody can have these moments and you have to be prepared and have the capacity to look further and maintain all the things that the team is doing well.

On avoiding a repeat of last year when form fell off a cliff…

I don’t know. A year ago, things were different. It’s difficult to expect what is going to happen. What we want is to have a positive mindset all the time to look forward and to believe that things are going to go our way and the way we want and we focus on that.

On how things are different now behind the scenes…

Obviously, the world has changed, now everything is more open. We have our stadium, we have much more normality around our players, the team has changed, the squad is changed massively and it’s just a different context now.

On whether it matters that a group of his youngsters are English…

We are an English club and we have now a lot of Academy players, homegrown players and English players and I think you have to respect that core, those values and that history as well. But that mixture, that multicultural team that we have in many aspects is very beneficial and very necessary in modern football.

On Arsenal’s points tally since Boxing Day last year being the fourth-best in the top flight…

That shows that if you break the calendar in a different way then we’d be challenging in those positions or we have the quality and we can show consistency there. It’s where we have [not] shown the consistency in those moments that hasn’t been good enough to be there. This is the challenge that we have and where the improvement has to come.

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Johnny 4 Hats

I only remembered about the Amazon documentary the other day. If we have a good season, I’ll be watching that on repeat for years.

I’m very happy for Mikel. Although I lost faith at times, it was never because of his character or attitude. He’s been a genuinely positive influence on this club and deserves a lot of credit for this unprecedented turn around in fortunes.

He never lost the dressing room. He never surrendered his principles. He never stopped believing.

Maybe it won’t work long term. But for allowing us to dream again, he deserves all our thanks.

Guns Up

Well said. Unlike the unrelenting negative posters here (who of course have been blissfully silent for over two months now), I am not willing to make any definitive assertions about Arteta 100 games into his managerial career, but it FEELS different lately and he appears to be repaying the faith. I think I’ve given him more leeway than most because of the mere possibility of the fairytale outcome, where former player comes good, develops himself into a complete manager right here at our club, and carries us back to the promised land. I loved, and will always love, Arsene Wenger,… Read more »

Mario

I think that the players believe in him bc he is one of those managers that is also a hands on coach. It’s hard to take over from a legend like Wenger who despite the results in the latter years in his career has given the club its most successful years. I have always been optimistic that we will get back to the top. Now I’m eager to see how fast we can get there as the team is doing well now, but has so much room to grow and become better. COYG!!!!

thw14

I don’t know if he surrendered any principles, but he’s certainly changed things about his own approach this season (apart from new players ie).

That shows some self-awareness and commitment to the club over individual, which is why it’s easier to respect what he’s trying now, even if the results don’t always reflect it.

Neil Bamford

I must admit, I was really starting to question things after the 3 losses at the beginning of the season, and although I really wanted “the process” to work, I could have understood completely if they decided to let him go. Im just so glad they’ve stuck with him.

Goodly Morning

Hello Johnny, I enjoy reading your comments and thought I would post a considered reply to you and others in the thread. I can really see your point and those of others replying here and respectfully wabted to share my views on things, football is after all often a matter of opinion. I don’t think people such as myself who had doubts about Arteta should be considered unrelentingly negative or unfaithful to the club. If anything people love football so much they hurt when it isn’t enjoyable and to be honest Artetaball was looking aimless and poor at times. I… Read more »

Paul

Fair enough.

I think what J4H meant by “unrelenting negative” are the familiar names that comment MOSTLY when we lost.

Johnny 4 Hats

I didn’t call anyone “unrelentingly negative”. I think everyone on here is entitled to their voice and I always enjoy the discourse. We couldn’t have it if we always agreed on everything. I do think there is this “I told you so” attitude sometimes which isn’t particularly useful. People hang onto their opinions for half a season and then, when they appear to be proved right, they chastise everyone else for their stupidity. We all get it wrong all the time and we are all allowed to evolve our opinions. Look at Ramsdale. Sums it all up. He went from… Read more »

EmileSmithWhoa

Arteta has been a very very consistent player, captain, ex-player, assistant coach, manager during his career. Other players, teammates, coaches, managers, ex managers and ex players who knew him and his abilities well, they were all as confident and as positive as possible about Arteta success in this volatile business/job. Personally, my doubt was/is “ will the club be able or willing to provide the elevated depth to play his specific style at a league winning level, with a full Champions League schedule, in the EPL? “ Here is the difference between the 25-50% of fans who get all agro… Read more »

C.B.

Let’s see how we do against Liverpool, its a big benchmark for our season as a v tough away match. If we do well the players and fans will get a lot of confidence.
Would love it if we can have another success and keep the unbeaten run going.

Matthinc

I have a feeling we don’t have enough yet to take any points from the game, but that’s to be expected and id love to be wrong. But it will be massive just seeing how we go about things, energy, mentality, and how we respond. Fingers crossed.

Mario

Why don’t you think we have enough. Liverpool isn’t firing on all cylinders as opposed to a past few seasons. They already dropped many points this season and their attack isn’t as fluid and ruthless as they use to be. We can get something out of this game and I think we will.
COYG

Dennis Elbow

I can see us getting a 2-2 draw or possibly nicking it right at the end for
2-3. Or we could lose 3-0.
Looking 4ward to the game.

Pule Mlambo

The team deserves and manager all the support from us the fans. This will help inspire them to push much more harder. Come on you Gunners!

Henrypiresberg

I have always believed in Mikel. He has done what every good manager does. Be it Klopp or Guardiola, both of them stabilised the defence first by bringing world class players like VVD and Laporte. Both of them also introduced good attacking full backs and have strong committed mid field. Mikel is doing the same. He brought in Gabriel and White to stabilise the defence. Good full backs and now has a committed midfield. We lack in having magical players like Salah and Mane or Aguero and that is why we are not a force to reckon with now but… Read more »

GLB

Call me naive or even stupid but with a bit of luck, I can see us running straight through Liverpool on the counter. We have great runners and perhaps now more than ever we have great passers with the ability to pick them out first time. I hope Liverpool press us high and push their defense up to the half way line. It’s risky, of course, but we have to have the confidence to go toe to toe and see what happens. If we lose it’s not the end of the world. We’ve earned this.

Abdul bakar

Yeah am one of them who doubted him on leading arsenal to the top. We all love our club and want to see it gets better and better, we are hurt seeing our beloved Club struggling and we are all humans. The past is past let’s now focus on the future and keep the faith. Trust the process.

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