Saturday, June 22, 2024

Arteta on Saka’s durability, player injuries & being too emotional at home

In the second half of his Pre-Bournemouth press conference, Mikel Arteta touched on three interesting themes; Bukayo Saka’s durability, the threat of injury facing players in the modern game, and the difference between Arsenal’s state of mind at home, where we struggle to keep clean sheets, and on the road.

Here’s a transcript of the best bits…

On how Bukayo has managed so many games in a row given he gets kicked a lot…

I think I talked about it over a year ago, it’s his mentality. If you want to be the player that he wants to be, you need to have that mindset that you want to play every single minute. You prepare yourself to play every single minute at your best. Don’t just be there but make a contribution to a team to win games and that’s changed in him; the way he prepares himself, the way he’s always talking to people, the way he sets demands on himself. The support is good around him. He’s got a lot of ingredients, who knows how long that run can go. We have to protect him, that’s for sure. And we have to make sure that we understand when is the right moment to give him that. But there is something within that is growing and that’s a really important part of his game.

On how Saka manages to find a way to escape trouble on the pitch…

I think with experience he’s recognising those situations much better and he’s exposing his body much less in the previous seconds before the action actually happens. That’s something that he’s doing, that we’re working on and it will protect his physique, that’s for sure.

On how Saka works on that…

Just understanding that it’s not a coincidence. And sometimes, as well, your teammates play you, I call them, hospital balls. So they give you a ball that can take you directly to hospital. So don’t play those balls in unnecessary moments. Sometimes it’s the problem of the player who gives the ball. Sometimes it’s the previous movement and your lack of activity in the previous seconds that expose you in that position.

On Vincent Kompany suggesting there should be an appearance cap for players over the course of a season…

It is an idea that’s for sure. How we develop those ideas together to find a common agreement, that’s a different story. But I think something has to be discussed seriously about where we’re taking the game, the exposure of the players and how we’re going to allow it. Because, as well, if we’re not going to change that, then we’re going to have bigger squads. If you’re going to have bigger squads, we need bigger resources. And you have to allow teams and squads and provide the financial resources as well to have squads of 30 players. Because at the end it’s a way of limiting a player to play 50 or 60 games, having a squad of 20 or having a squad of 30. It’s a different sport. We already made some changes with the five subs. Now if somebody tells you, no, tomorrow is only three subs, we would all be shocked, we are not used to it. So, there is something that has to be changed because at that level is impossible to maintain. In January, we’re going to lose three or four players as well with a different competition [AFCON & Asia Cup]. So let’s see, let’s see where we go.

On what will happen on the player injury front if nothing is changed…

I think it’s for the players and for football in general because we would have two things; one, the quality drops because those players are not going to be available because they will be injured. Two, we have to change the resources so that every team has to have more players with the same quality. Because once we are used to the quality that we provide, especially in this league, we’re not going to accept anything different. We always want better, not worse, and we’re going to have to evolve.

On why Arsenal have been struggling to keep clean sheets at home and if he’s thought about that…

A lot of thoughts, believe me! And it comes down to many factors, it’s not just one. I think especially at home we have a lot of individual errors leading to goals. And that has caused some problems. Away from home we haven’t had. It’s true that away from home, the approach is very different from opponents but it’s something that we have to turn around quickly, because if we want the consistency and results, especially at home, it’s something that we need to change, that’s for sure.

On whether Arsenal are too emotional at home…

At times we are, yes. We want to attack too fast.

On whether there’s anything he can do on the training ground to prepare his players for home games…

I think in football in general we’re not going to change our approach in terms of how we’re going to win the ball back. We are a very, very aggressive team and we don’t want to change that. It’s about having the ability to change gears. We cannot play with those gears all the time when we have the ball and we don’t have it. We have to play at different paces and the game requires different paces in relation to the behaviour of the opponent. Are they waiting for you? Are they jumping? Are they being aggressive? Are they not? Where the spaces are. We have to manage that a bit better.

Or whether it’s a mental or physical problem…

It’s mental, it’s about reading the situation, it’s about finding the composure and being uncomfortable or comfortable when it’s a more chaotic game. But sometimes we provoke as well in our way of playing.

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djourou's nutmeg

amazing how complex has football become. not too many years ago, a player could do with staying in this area, mark this player, pass it to that one, and hit it strong. you weren’t asked that much more. now you have to play 40 different formations in a single game, read the opponent’s movement, generate situations in certain areas of the pitch, and do it at the same time your 10 teammates do it… it’s very impressive how competition has perfected the tactical side of the game and how smart players have to be nowadays to play in a top… Read more »

Teryima Adi

Nice read. Let’s just beat Bournemouth today and make sure Man City is not out of sight. COYG!!!


The ‘hospital Balls’ gave me a good chuckle


I think it’s a rugby term.

You pass a high ball sideways to your team mate.

He waits for the ball to come down and catch it.

That’s the moment the opponent crush his hips.


In south Africa we call them hospital passes, generally a 40/60 pass that the intended has little or no chance of getting to.


We got super Mik Arteta


What a manager we have here. A true understanding of how people work.


I’ve heard the term “Hospital pass” used when a pass is played in such a way as the team-mate and opponent will arrive more or less together to take the ball. Of course the ideal is for your team-mate to arrive fractionally sooner, but tempt the opponent into thinking he can get there first, thus he commits himself and your team mate skips away with the ball and another opponent has to deal with him. But it’s risky as there can be a high speed collision.


Nothing to add, but just wondering aloud why this comment would get downvoted?!


I mean the good news is that he definitely recognises and is frustrated by the same things we are. I would like to see a bit more game by game evidence of improvement (in performance). Right now the margins are too fine and every PL game feels like a banana skin and every dropped point is a sledgehammer. We are absolutely good enough, even with injuries, to put most teams in this league to the sword.

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