Saturday, June 22, 2024

Arteta on a vital week, Xhaka’s fitness, Lokonga’s development and Patino

In the second half of his pre-Liverpool press conference, Mikel Arteta fielded questions about Granit Xhaka’s fitness, how his backroom staff monitor isolating players, the defeat at Forest, the performances of Sambi Lokonga and Charlie Patino and the season-defining week ahead.

On whether Granit Xhaka has symptoms alongside his positive Covid diagnosis…

In Granit’s case, not a lot. There are players that have felt different, but he wasn’t a big case. 

On it being difficult for players to train at home when they are in isolation…

Very difficult. We have players at home where we’ve had to stop them because they want to carry on doing that, they don’t want to lose any fitness. That’s why the doctor and the sports science department are really on top of them to understand what they are able to do. We don’t want to risk the health of the players, it’s absolutely the first thing we have to look at. Then it’s how do we maintain their fitness and mentally fit as well. When you are away for seven to 10 days in your house while a lot of things are happening, it’s pretty frustrating. 

On whether he feels hard done by having to play matches in August despite Covid cases in the camp…

That’s what we discussed a few weeks ago and you heard me say we need consistency and clarity on the rules. I think the rules are a little bit clearer now but how you use them, how they’ve been used, there’s always a question mark there and room for interpretation. What’s done is done, we cannot change it, we move on and learn. 

On this week being pivotal to Arsenal’s season…

It’s really important because we’re playing in two different competitions that we are really engaged in and have a lot of enthusiasm about. One, because you can reach a final and you’re closer to a trophy and the other because we’re going to play a big London derby against a team who is in the hunt for the same objective as we have. 

On the Forest defeat being a reminder of the importance of having the right mentality…

First, you have to bear in mind the context of how the game [against Forest] occurred and the players we had available. After that, leave the excuses and start to analyse the performance and what happened. We lacked cohesion in that game, we lacked purpose, I didn’t like the quality and intention we had in our attacking phase, certainly in the first two phases. When we were going into the final third we didn’t have enough end product, we didn’t hit the target with the amount of chances we created and then, when you do that and don’t have the right organisation when you lose the ball, you’re exposed. We didn’t do it right on two or three occasions and on two of those we could have got badly punished. It was enough to lose the match. 

On expecting a reaction…

I don’t have to ask for a reaction, I know how they felt about it. I think it’s clear, there’s nothing we can argue about or discuss, it’s crystal clear and if it wasn’t, I’ve tried to make it so nobody gets confused about the standards required to play at this level against any opponent because this competition we have experienced and there’s a big history about it. Now it’s time to move on. 

On the Forest game reiterating that the squad isn’t strong enough…

I always focus on the players that we have and how we can improve them and there were a lot of things we should have done much better that would have been more than enough to win the match. Changing a few aspects, not all the aspects, because there were attitude things that I really liked – how we pressed, how we chased the ball – but there were other things that weren’t good enough to win the match to make the difference the way it should be. 

On Xhaka’s availability…

There are certain protocols; when the situation started, when you get tested negative, whether you have symptoms. Hopefully, Gary [O’Driscoll, club doctor] will come to me today with a final decision about whether he’s entitled to compete tomorrow or not. It will be down to a test. 

On asking Lokonga to fill in having not played much recently…

That’s why when you judge an individual performance of a player you need to bear in mind what happened to him, how many minutes he’s played, who he’s playing with and to make a fair assessment because the heat of a defeat or the heat of a performance cannot lead to anybody to make the wrong conclusions. With Sambi, yes, he needs more minutes. I think since he’s joined, he’s done much more than anybody expected, he’s played many more games at a really high level than anybody expected and now he has a great opportunity to keep playing. 

On Sambi’s game at Forest and what the player will have learned…

Like any other game, there are things he’ll take on board that he did really well and others that he had to do extremely much better. It was a complicated performance, when they [Forest] defended, they were very man orientated, he hasn’t experienced a lot of games like that and certainly, it will be a good game for him [to learn from]. 

On Patino at Forest…

It was his first real exposure that he had starting a game. It was a magnificent experience for him, a tough one but good to see what happens when you lose at a big club and the reaction, how the dressing room feels, how the manager feels, what the expectations are. And look, you can be there but then you have to sustain yourself there and that’s a different story. 

On playing Patino against Liverpool…

We will look at the players we have available and we will put the best possible team out that we have.

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Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

One thing that the boss said which stuck out for me was “the players we had available”.
Deep down he must know that players like Cedric and Holding aren’t good enough to be squad players at a club like Arsenal.
Poor performances from Nuno, Patino and Nketiah – you can expect, but experienced Holding and international Cedric putting in performances like that against a Championship team is unforgiveable.


Don’t agree on Holding, he isn’t good enough to be a starter but a fine squad player. Forest was an anomaly


I agree Steinn, I’ve generally been impressed with Holding when he’s had to fill in


The trouble is Holding hasn’t had any meaningful game time for months so it’s difficult to expect him to be on the same level as White or Gabriel….

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Holding has been a great servant to the club but his level is more mid table with a defensive positioning of defending the box. His poor positioning has lead to a lot of goals and opportunities over the past two years. Arteta can see his level. Ideally he’s our fourth CB next year w Saliba coming into the squad.


Maybe harsh after just one game but I thought Patino looked like a 13 year old against Forest. Slow and weak on and off the ball. His physique is too far off from the required at this stage. Reminded me of Zelalem as opposed to Jack or Ramsey at his age.


He needs to grow into his frame. Some players are physically ready early on and others aren’t. I expect him to be there in a couple years. Some loans a la ESR would help him.


Patino’s trial by fire was a failure. He got his chance well before his time, and due to lack of options in the midfield.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

You really don’t understand the football. Read Arteta’s comments again.


Very true. Looked like he couldn’t push the ball past anyone and didn’t look brave enough to turn when getting the ball which is understandable however it just goes to show how brilliant rambo and jack were. Patino needs a loan before playing for arsenal again imo.

Announce Bendtner

I agree that it’s definitely not what many of us thought his performance would be. My bet is that it was a lack of confidence as opposed to lack of skill/potential.
Maybe we’re spoilt recently with ESR and Saka but like others have said if he follows ESR route of loans it may be very beneficial given his age.
I also wonder if having Partey/Xhaka next to him would have allowed him to be more confidence.


I think this wouldn’t have been so obvious if he was playing alongside a ‘minder’. Asking Sambi to do this was an ask too far.


It seemed like he was mentally a step behind the rest of the team when it came to following the play. It appeared as if he was hiding from receiving the ball but it might have actually been the case that he couldn’t read the best place to position himself to be open when his teammate was ready to pass. He seemed to flow with the Nottingham players more than the Arsenal players. I don’t think his physicality was as much to do with his performance as was his mental side. I would have liked him to be more aggressive… Read more »


manager speaks so well and answers intelligently. we have a bright future.

Funsho Patrick

We should have had a replacement in place before letting Maitland Niles go.. stories say that’s what juventus is doing to us for Arthur Melo…I expect him to field Ben White or chambers there..white seems to have the superior ball handling though…let’s hope xhaka passes the test..

Bleeding gums murphy

I have to admit it’s getting better, it’s getting better all the time. I watched some of scum game last night. Their midfield is dreadful and they trying playing out from the back and when the dogs (Chelsea) pressured them, they were in trouble. Get on front foot and stay on it. We win.


What an absolute shambles sp?ds are, in my eyes they represent nothing, but a bunch of toothless, spineless cheaters.
Would love to see us winning at the shite hole this weekend


Here here. And their gimpy slogan ‘to dare is to do’ is about as ironic as it gets.

I mean wtf does it even mean? Do they realise how stupid it sounds? By my count it’s no league since the 60s.. you tw4ts!


We’re on the same page brother!
Their entire mechanism is wired by a self-destructive program. Honestly it’s a miracle this ‘club’ still exist.
They’ve been in a downward spiral ever since the foundation of this shit

Billy bob

Hate points that are considered as pivotal as I have witnessed too many failures!!! Time to break that trend – draw at sham-field and spank the spuds!!!


This Vlahovic deal is a bad one for the club. We’re being played by a 21 year old and his agents. He’s a top striker but so is Isak and so is David. Would much rather see is go for Isak. Very tough to determine where these guys will be in three years but the margins will probably be small. If Vlahovic doesn’t think we’re good enough move for him then f#%* him, honestly. He doesn’t deserve to where the shirt!

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