Friday, January 27, 2023

Arteta talks Covid, Smith Rowe’s importance, kicking Saka and ‘the process’

After two defeats in a week, Mikel Arteta came across as a bit of a sourpuss in his pre-Southampton press conference. 

While he was courteous enough with the journalists who attended on Zoom, the underlying sense you got from the Spaniard was that he’d rather be anywhere else in the world. 

Here’s a transcript from the short embargoed section…it doesn’t exactly make for thrilling reading.

Hopefully three points tomorrow will put him in a chattier mood. 

On what Arsenal are doing on a practical level to keep Covid-19 away from the squad…

There are so many things that we cannot control when they aren’t at the training ground or are outside the stadium but there are other things that we can [do] and this is what we have to constantly monitor and improve and control. If not, we will have issues. 

On how difficult it is for players, especially those whose families are abroad, during times like these…

I’m talking as human beings when you don’t have family around you, we all need that and we all need that support. In this country, there is obviously a lot of foreign people living here and when they’ve been away from their families, I’m sure it’s tough. It’s no different for any football player. 

On whether he’s concerned Covid worries could have an impact on performance…

Hopefully no, we have experienced that and have lived those situations before. The first one you struggle more and now you can prepare yourself better and as well, we’re going to be on top of them [the players] to help them as much as possible. 

On stats underlining the importance of Smith Rowe to Arsenal…

He has improved the dynamic and the attacking threat of the team with his movement, the way he links and finds relationships on the pitch, with his threat on goal, which this season has been much, much better, with the capacity that he has to create chances and to open spaces for his teammates. He’s been a key player and hopefully, we can sustain that over time. 

On whether Bukayo needs more protection now he’s a target for opponents’ physical tactics…

That’s the referee’s job. When you look back at the game [at Everton], you notice there could easily not be 11 players on that pitch. 

On whether it’s Bukayo in particular who gets rough treatment…

It’s not him in particular, there were other incidents and players and they weren’t taken into account. 

On whether Arsenal should be taking advantage of the fact we’ve not played in Europe…

We are playing Southampton and they are having a similar week to us but they played earlier than us because we played on Monday. But for the rest of the league, I imagine it’s been challenging and complicated. 

On whether more time on the training ground has been advantageous…

In terms of the training time, yes. In terms of emotionally or having another competition to give games and the players more involved and everybody with more minutes, no. Again, it’s what we have this season and we have to make the most out of it. 

On how long Arsenal’s fabled ‘process’ should last…

The process is what we’re in and it’s our reality. We were 10 games unbeaten and the team was starting to do things in a much better and consistent way and we wanted to continue that. We went to Old Trafford and you saw a team that played the way I see and the way I understand that Arsenal has to play. But the result didn’t go our way. We went to Everton and for big periods, we completely dominated that game, we created the five big chances in the game and we didn’t win the match. This is the process and when you are there you have to win those two matches. 

On Arsenal beating smaller teams and losing to the big ones and if anything can be changed…

We beat Leicester away very convincingly, we beat Sp*rs convincingly, we went to Old Trafford and deserved much more against, in my opinion, one of the best squads in the league, and we went to Goodison Park and we were the same. 

On whether Arsenal are competing for a European place…

Being realistic is aiming for the best, we’re Arsenal Football Club and we have to win every single match. 

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Arteta is incredibly well spoken and says all the right things but we’re still an incredibly risk adverse team who struggle to create anything 2 years in. At some point you simply have to say that’s his style of play. We have enough talent to easily finish in European places but that will be our ceiling baring a change of style in how we play. The club has a real decision to make at year end as the reality is we aren’t making meaningful progress.


What does constitute meaningful progress, then? I thought most everyone had agreed that we should be in the hunt for fourth spot this season? You disappeared during the unbeaten streak so I don’t know if you changed your reasoning, but I thought you specifically had stated that we should be challenging for fourth this year and top 6 is a must if Arteta is to keep his job?

I can never keep up with the changing demands! 😉


The stats have been extremely consistent. Over Arteta’s entire tenure we are one of the worst teams in the league at creating chances. We won’t finish above 5-6 at best unless something materially changes in terms of Arteta’s tactics. His style of play just isn’t conducive to being a top 4 team regardless of personnel. The stats don’t lie.

Bleeding gums murphy

I think where we are is down to the players. It’s shows that they can easily challenge for top four. A better manager and we would be playing much better football and potentially breathing right down Chelsea’s neck.


Down to the players? As if the manager doesn’t matter? That is an odd statement. So which players have brought Arsenal up the table in spite of Arteta? The players he and Edu brought in or the players pre-dating him? Did Arteta also not have any contribution to the identification and selection of these new players who had the attitudes he so strongly said were important for the success of Arsenal football club and which was unrecognizable before he accepted the job? Let’s be clear… Arteta has his faults, without a doubt. However, he is just as responsible as the… Read more »

Hank Scorpio

The stats don’t lie in terms of chance creation and watching this team trying to play is excruciating most of the time. Top 6 is a must. It will be more difficult now that Spurs and United have proper managers. Without the extra load of European football I had expected a lot more in terms of quality of performances and energy displayed by the team. In terms of what we have seen played out on the pitch it’s hard to argue that is what is being delivered. Here’s hoping we do reach the Europa League (not the other pretend one… Read more »


Being well spoken is what keeps him in the job frankly.

“For long periods we were dominant against Everton.” Perfect example of him talking his way out of trouble, most of us watched the same game and me personally never felt we deserved anything from that game.

Wait till he talks about this “process” and “young team” concepts and all the sudden people forget how awful the football is on pitch.


Big month coming up. If we don’t get decent points (and a boost in confidence) this month then January will be a lot tougher.

Jeremy DG

Anyone else a little pissed off the spuds managed to get their game postponed because of covid cases whereas we get ordered to play against Brentford when we had an outbreak? Seems a bit like one rule for some…




A little, yes. But remember we lost 3 players only. It seems their squad has been harder hit. As discussed it seems the authorities need clear guidelines to be followed and applied fairly


Excuses…the hallmark of Arsenal these past years.


Don’t really care. One, the Spurs outbreak does seem significantly worse than the one we had. Two, the pandemic situation is far worse than it was in the summer. Three, I don’t give a fuck about what Sp*rs do when they aren’t playing us. Four, and most important – I never bought any of the excuses for the Brentford game. We won’t beat sides like Brentford every single time, but we should ALWAYS be on the front foot. The excuses were always just that. Oh, it was that Auba had COVID. Oh, it was that we hadn’t finished our transfer… Read more »

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Hopefully they’ll be awarded a 0-3 loss for boycotting their remaining European fixture which would then eliminate them, that is unless all three of their goalkeepers caught Covid as that would legally allow them to postpone the fixture.


We beat Leicester “Very convincingly”? For 30 minutes we were great and then we lost control of the game and only some desperate defending and a MOTM performance from Ramsdale won us the points. I like Arteta and want him to succeed but the football we play is so dull and there’s nothing to suggest it’s getting better.


This team is scared. Arteta is scared.

Santi's Thigh Grab

Flip it around. Arteta is scared, the team is scared.


I definitely didn’t see the same matches. Maybe my TV is broken.

Bleeding gums murphy

You mean you didn’t see us completely dominate Everton 😂😂


I can see the progress made. Just that he doesnt have enough attacking personnel who can execute the high intensity pressing style. Senior players like Partey and Xhaka are not helping either to manage the games.. We need more personnel.


He doesn’t have that.. he doesn’t have this, the neverending excuses. Every player in that arsenal team bar pepe, martinelli and lacazette he either signed or gave a contract to or urged to stay when they wanted out. What top manager needs a shiny new 11 before they can show a semblance of progress? After 2 fucking years at the helm! Arteta ws a mistake, the earlier we cut our losses the better. Every minute he stays on is another feet in the hole we are digging ourselves into.

Maul Person

What high intensity pressing style?

Bleeding gums murphy

It’s fantastic ain’t it, high intensity pressing style, you couldn’t make this shit up 😂😂🎅🏼

Maul Person

I thought he has to be trolling but there is that distinct possibility that he legit believes it…

Funsho Patrick

We controlled the Everton game?! That’s Mikel being his delusional self from 2020. Throw back to when we had zero penetration and willian was in the side..I didn’t particularly fancy the Odegaard acquisition over say a hossam aouar who runs with the ball after receiving on the turn and penetrates on the dribble..only Smith Rowe and saka offer similar stuff in this side. Once one of them is out we revert back the doughnut passing of last season. I would lay the blame firmly on recruitment… imagine if we didn’t find those hale enders.. Wenger’s last season had Ramsey,mikitaryan,ozil,iwobi and… Read more »


This will be Arteta’s final season in charge. No two questions about it.

Maul Person

Only if he fails to get European football. Puts us in a weird place then… wish for European football and he stays or wish for him to leave which means wishing for us to finish 7th / 8th again.


It depends on how much the owners care.
So far, they’ve only let coaches go after the fanbase turned on them and it became an embarrassment.

Bleeding gums murphy

I have a feeling we are stuck with an out of depth manager for a while yet. If we finish 6th they will stick with this process bollox. He is actual saying it was all going well in the Everton game and we were in complete control. He is an embarrassment I’m afraid. It’s a shame I wanted him to work but now I just want him gone from The Arsenal. A win today and next week though and a few on here will be telling us we are back and heading in right direction. 😩😩


Let’s hope he doesn’t select a team littered with players that won’t make 90 minutes today. The fitness issues alluded to bu Feyenoord with Nelson start to make some sense. We don’t seem capable of running for a full game.

Santi's Thigh Grab

It’s interesting that a lot of our players who go one loan are declared by their new team to be unfit. This has happened several times and we have our own group of players who struggle to play 90.


“On whether Arsenal should be taking advantage of the fact we’ve not played in Europe…”
We are making our way to another calm and quiet year outside those disturbing competitions.

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