Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Arteta on rebuilding his squad, Kroenke talks, player discipline and Auba’s exit

The second half of Mikel Arteta’s pre-Wolves press conference certainly made for interesting listening. 

After a complicated January transfer window, he acknowledged that the summer isn’t going to be easy either because of the complications that come with balancing youth and experience and with several players being out of contract. On the plus side, he’s confident that the club won’t have a problem attracting the right calibre of player to join.

There were also more reflections on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s departure and a suggestion that the player’s behaviour didn’t necessarily win him the support of his teammates. 

Here’s how things unfolded…

On only having 20 senior players…

We are short of options but I think we have a much better balance compared to when we had lots of options but we were totally unbalanced. My focus is more there, as well to have reliable players with the right availability who we need to use and are there mind-wise, physically and with the right qualities as well, that’s what we’re trying to do. Unfortunately, towards the end of the summer we have four or five players that finish their contracts. We’re going to have to try many things again. This is not stopping and it takes a while to rebuild a squad and it’s not happening in one or two windows, unfortunately, but we’re in the right path. I really believe so. 

On needing a bigger squad if the club qualifies for Europe…

Yes, but that’s part of the strategy, we’ll have some contracts that are ending and we’re going to need to make decisions regarding where we are and we have that option to do that. We have players on loan that we are developing as well to understand where they can be [next season] and how much of a contribution they can have in the squad. And obviously, we’re going to have to sign players, that’s without a doubt. 

On whether summer transfer business was discussed with Kroenke in the US…

That’s something we discussed internally with Edu, personally all the time, and with the team. Obviously, you have to raise those ideas and the vision that you have with the owners, who are completely aligned and have been very supportive of us. 

On whether he’s ready for a fan backlash if the gamble on not buying players backfires…

Yes, but sometimes it’s not what we want to do it’s what we can do. We have to be realistic about that. I’m not only talking about the financial position of the club and the investment we’ve had to do and how we’ve been able to sell or loan players but as well, when you identify the talent it’s whether it’s available to do it. The last thing we want to do is bring players here that are not going to take us to the next level. Now we’re going to go to the next level and to do that, we need to have the certainties. We’ve done a lot of work in order to get that discipline internally to do that. That’s the only objective and the reason behind it. Again, it will be about winning or not. When we won six games in a row, I haven’t had one question about “do we have enough goals in the team”. I didn’t, now I do. It’s going to happen, it’s normal but my decision, our decision as a club, cannot be based on that. Then I know we’re going to go and it’s not to the place we want to take the club. 

On if he’s confident that quality players will want to join the club in the summer…

Absolutely. We have the tradition, what the club inspires, what we are as a club, it’s enormous. Everybody wants to play for Arsenal. I haven’t had one time on the phone with a player, a member of staff when we’re recruiting, who doesn’t want to join Arsenal. That’s for sure. If they go elsewhere for financial reasons, that’s something else. But the willingness to come and be part of this…I haven’t experienced anything different and for that I’m really glad.

On whether Arsenal’s financial muscle will depend on finishing in the top four…

Everything helps because the financial position is going to determine how good we are with the team performances, where we finish. Obviously, that will help with our sponsorship, our marketing, our ticketing sales, it’s a ball that rolls constantly. Where it starts, is how good we do on that pitch. To do good on that pitch, what do we do? The right ideas, the right environment, the right players to perform. It’s something we have to fit all the time. 

On whether off-pitch discipline matters if an individual can still make a difference on the pitch…

I don’t think I’m too hard on that [discipline] to be fair. I don’t know the perception externally but there are some minimums, a line that you cannot cross and if somebody is going to cross it because he’s scored 25 or 30 goals then that dressing room has to accept it. First you have to score 25 or 30 goals, or 40 or 50 because I’ve seen that, and maybe they [the teammates] said, “listen guys, don’t train, you train once a week and you play.” But they will decide. If they are happy with that then with me there’s no problem. If they are happy with that and they can live with that, you have to do it.  

On whether he got the impression the players were unwilling to make that exception for Auba…

I don’t work with impressions, I work with facts. And I like to see and smell where this is going and if possible, anticipate issues. 

On Auba’s legacy…

From my side and everybody here, and I think you’ve seen a couple of messages to him, it’s gratitude, we wish him the best and we move on without regrets because I prefer to look at all the beautiful things and the good times that we had. And as well, very importantly, to learn from those ones that have not been so good and to learn what you could have done better from my side.

On the reaction in the dressing room to Auba leaving…

They’ve been understanding. They knew what was happening and I think it’s a good solution for everybody. 

On Lacazette taking the responsibility of captain…

Laca is who he is, he hasn’t changed. A person doesn’t change because of something like this [being captain], he knows his importance in the team and he knows how much he’s played since I’ve been here. He needs to be him, he doesn’t need to pretend to be something that he’s not. The best thing is to be himself. 

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Badaab

ultimately it doesn’t matter if the team has the funds to invest this summer because we’re going to HAVE to just to fill spots from players that are leaving due to expiring contracts (and thats IF we don’t sell).
by my count we probably need the following (at a minimum) just for domestic play: backup GK; backup RB; 2 CMF players; 2 CF (the case could even be made for adding 1 CB if we fail to hold on to Saliba)
not filling those spots in the squad will leave us looking extremely light

Giuseppe Hovno

Who are the five players with contracts finishing?

It’s only three as far as I can tell; Lacazette, Nketiah, Elneny. And that’s including the nine senior players out on loan.

Kolasinac and Chambers would have made four and five but obviously not an issue anymore.

J C

Leno.

Gooner7190

Isn’t Leno’s June 2023?

215Arse

He may be referring to Guendozi and AMN.

Towelie

Backup GK is already joining in the summer and I think 1 CF will be Balogun. Other than that I agree. The midfield is a big problem that needs to be fixed asap. Xhaka is looking to be going out, Elneny’s contract is ending. So not only we need to replace these players but we should totally add to them as well.

ChickPEA

I’m fine with Xhaka as back-up next year if we buy one very good CM. The amount of work to do in the summer is huge, so we should prioritize.
For me it’s: 1 very good CF, 1 very good CM, Saka Gabi and (hopefully) Saliba extending, 1 backup RB. Then try to get some money from Torreira, Bellerin, AMN, Leno, Mari, and get rid of Cedric and Runarsson.
Huge window ahead.

Kris

While I agree that we have ‘HAVE’ to fill the spots, the reality is that the level of funds available will dictate the quality we are able to recruit. You could recruit those players with essentially zero money and still fill the spots, they’d just not be very good players…

Johnny 4 Hats

Off topic, so sorry. But look at these Sp*rs and United sides. They are not good man. Conte is papering over a few cracks but they are still there. And United look disjointed and fragmented. Both sides have scraped through so many fixtures and are now starting to get found out.

We have to be positive. We have the best XI as a team. We are full of youthful energy. If we can go on a bit of a run, we can do this.

A win tomorrow would be so amazing. This is the biggest game of 2022.

COYG!!!

Johnny 4 Hats

If anyone wants an ear to ear smile, we all need one now and then, then watch Conte celebrating Sp*rs going 2-1 up like they’ve just won the Champions League.

Gareth

He actually wrapped his legs around one of his coaching staff. One of the cringiest things I’ve ever seen. Was so funny watching it back after they get beat though

Johnny 4 Hats

He also ssshhhed the away fans. LOL.

I’m looking at the Sp*rs fans reaction to this (albeit on Twitter) and they don’t seem to like his tactics too much. Sounds kinda like Jose mark 2. Lots of defending with counter attacks.

I don’t watch Sp*rs. Life is way too short. But I didn’t realise that perhaps this turnaround of theirs isn’t quite as comfortable as they would have us believe.

A lot to be positive about.

A Different George

They were awful. Trying to watch as an observer, not as an Arsenal supporter, I tried to see their strengths. Lloris is a very good keeper, though not as good with his feet the two Brazilians in England. Kane can sometimes find a brilliant long pass, but he is not nearly as strong a finisher as a few years ago, unless he is playing against very weak opposition. Son has great pace, good runs, limited technical quality (still a very good player). Moura–great pace, carries the ball well, not quite top level. Midfield non-existent (maybe the new players are better).… Read more »

Thierrys_Tears

And at that point they had an own goal and a Valentine’s gift from the referee. They were clearly the second best side on the pitch.

Gooner7190

Imagine getting dominated at home by Southampton 🤣. 23 shots, the TV’s were probably still black & white the last time they had that many attempts in one game

SarcasmB0T

You sound like you have crypto to sell, too.

Johnny 4 Hats

Oh god no, what a waste of time and money. A total scam.

Say friend, have you ever heard of something called NFT’s? Basically the internet is just giving out free money. I’ve got lots of information on how you can put your kids through college with one single transaction. So let me know if you’re interested.

Merlin’s Panini

If the rumours were true then Vlahovic didn’t want to join us even for more money than Juventus are paying him, so to say everyone wants to come to us doesn’t really ring true. I’m sure there are still a lot that do. We have some exciting players and a couple of strong additions up front and in midfield would put us right up there.

Okesano

For me I keep a “grudge” Vlahovic n Lacatteli. I want them to cry when next year we win the CL and they are still trying to push the “old lady” 👀

Brady’s bunch

I think most footballers have a club that they would really like to play for and given the opportunity to do so they will lean that way regardless of money. The likes of Henry, bergkamp are still drawing players to this club and that’s part of football thankfully

Magneto

Translation: it’s part of Arsene’s legacy that many professional football players around the world would love to play for the Arsenal.

Harib

The answer lies in the word… Rumors

Valho wanted to stay in Italy. End of. We move on

Hurensohn

Not sure Arteta should be coming out and saying he didn’t want to come here anyway. even if that was the case..

onenil

I think we have every chance of making the top four this season, if we can avoid an injury crisis. The other teams around us are pretty poor, and just as inconsistent as we are. If we had managed to sign a decent striker I would say we were nailed on for it.

YoungGun

We now control our own destiny. The other teams dropped points. Now from this point on if we don’t get top 4 there’s no excuse. Guys gotta put their all in now. Only league games left.

Gooner7190

Bar West Ham but having been at that game(my missus supports them), nullify Bowen & their attacking threat has gone. Antonio spent the whole game looking for fouls & he touched the ball ONCE in the box in a full 93 minute appearance I think

Lord Bendnter

TLDR
Did Arteta mention anything exciting?

Lord Bendnter

Feel free to contaminate my naïve mind

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Which Arsenal are we going to get against Wolves?

The December Arsenal which scored 22 goals in 8 games.

Or the January Arsenal which hasn’t scored in over 7 hours.

But the difference maker between December and January isn’t the goal scorers – it’s Partey/Xhaka in the middle.

We very rarely lose when Partey/Xhaka play together. I think the only two times this season were Everton and Man City – both were 92nd minute winners.

Teryima Adi

Interesting info you got there on Partey/Xhaka combo.

Ayodele

Not to mention the Everton game was Xhaka’s first game back after a lengthy injury

Henry14Henry

From this part 2 of MA interview, it looks like Auba was missing training or certain key team activities on the basis of being the team’s captain and talisman. When the goals and talismanic performances stopped, he was expected to put more effort in being a part of the team, but didn’t. Maybe Auba had just gotten tired of being the one to carry arsenal and captain us. I believe making Auba captain was Emery’s worst decision, a cherry on top of bad decisions to leave us with. Auba is not captain material, he is a fun guy whose confidence… Read more »

Appels&Pere

I agree to most of this. Although he did score some crucial goals, I disagree that he was carrying the team. He was doing his part up front, and in for that to happen, everybody behind him needs to also do their part. I dont remember him firing the team up or particularly carrying the team. I love him and will miss his enthusiasm, but perhaps he did get too comfortable comparwd to his output on the field. And it’s been clear from the start that Arteta only accomodates those who commit to his way of doing it. Ehich to… Read more »

SarcasmB0T

So what we’ve learned is that he didn’t speak with Vlahović.

And that part about a player first having to score 25-30 goals and then [the teammates] saying “guys don’t train” is all but incomprehensible.

bob

I thought it was fairly clear to understand, though I can stand to be corrected.

It seemed like Auba wasn’t a good influence, discipline-wise, in training and the dressing room. That’s fine when he’s banging in goals and making himself indispensable, but without this upside it’s hard to justify the negative impact.

So, when he couldn’t contribute, nor change his attitude to match his output, he was removed from the group. Ruthless yes, but decisive, and best for the team. And most importantly, it’s clear the rest of the players agreed with the decision.

Scwibble

Ruthless? He was very well paid, he wasn’t delivering. I’m sorry, but a strict manager is all I ever wanted. This isn’t a fun camp. This club belongs in CL and we can’t afford to have the wrong characters in the squad hence the overhaul and new transfer policy.

I’m all for it.

James

It’s there we need to be on top form finishing the season. Plus we need referees and VAR to follow the rules consistently. Our January form we did player Liverpool twice, Man VAR city and Forrest with our second team. So I wouldnt read into that to much. We should have beaten Burnley who should have again had a player sent off. Contes spuds revolution is a false dawn. He was hired for his name not the style or culture the team needs. 4 wins in 13 games I think is his record correct me if I’m wrong. Plus having… Read more »

Abdul bakar

Well said but what we need is to stay together Cox there will be bumps on the road, we have to take advantage of those teams challenging for the top 4 when they drop points. Today’s game a will do the magic for us and will give the boys much confidence boost and moral will be high.. but sailing the top 4 spot will be wonderful and it shows that we are on the right track to challenge next season.. Better days ahead and trust the process.

Abdul bakar

I was kind of disappointed when we couldn’t get anyone in and the squad was very light but I prayed next transfer window should be better than this season which was one of the best window in over 10yrs at arsenal, prayed we better it by bringing in players of right profile that we help the team and fight for each other. A friend of mine over here in Nigeria woke me up this morning that he saw a news that we have sign Jack Wilshere for the rest of the season, I laughed so hard but I Love Jack… Read more »

Naked Cygan

Saying the right things is always easy. Let’s see what happens on the pitch.

Qwaliteee

A little less conversation and a little more action.

MojoWillneny

Has the team learned lessons from the first half of the season?
Will the team push on and not retreat into a vague passivity when they take the lead?
In these remaining 17 games, can they score goals like they did in December?
Was January just a blip in form, largely due to COVID and fatigue?
Will be able to capitalize on the games in hand and the rare instances, like this week’s results, when the competition drops points?

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