Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Arteta on installing a love for defending, Partey’s return and team selection headaches

In the final section of his pre-Sheffield United press conference, Mikel Arteta touched on the importance of his players loving their defensive work, his excitement at the return of Thomas Partey, the targets Bukayo Saka should be setting for himself and the headache of team selections when all his players are fit. 

On how and why Arsenal’s defensive numbers are so good at the moment…

First of all, the approach of the players, it’s up to them. 11 players are taking ownership and they are responsible for everything that happens on that field. Their attitude, their love and installing that love for defending. You have to love it. If you don’t love it, it’s because the manager is shouting and pushing at you. When you put something into their system and they enjoy doing that, and they take in pride in that, and they celebrate that defensive action and they do enjoy it like an assist or a goal, you can take that to a different level. I think that’s spreading amongst the team and that’s contagious. The attacking part is contagious, I think that [defensive enjoyment] is contagious as well, and it’s something that, in my opinion, is really important in the team. 

On defensive success requiring everybody on the pitch to do their bit…

Yes, everybody has to be connected because every space, the timing of it as well, the approach, the distances that you have between players to read certain intentions of the opponent, and structures, it’s a lot of things. But they know it now, I think it flows, they do it in a natural way and it is efficient and we have to continue to do that. 

On how many points Arsenal will need to win the league? 

You always ask me this question! [everyone laughs and Arteta wags his finger like a teacher] I don’t know. As you were saying, the demands, I don’t know. You might have to win every game. I don’t know. I have no clue. There’s a lot of games coming up. We’re all going to have crazy schedules and this league might be different to last season, but anything under 90 points I think it will be very difficult. 

On having once compared Arsenal to an onion and what he’s learnt now he’s pulled away some of the layers…

That we have to improve in every aspect, that’s it. At the end, that’s what all managers do, I think, is try to be better in everything that we do, and especially start winning as quickly as possible, because that’s the best thing to help win again. 

On whether he’s concerned by opponents deliberately breaking up play, as happened in the away Champions League clash with Porto…

Yeah, but the opponents are going to put a strategy in place to try to stop our threats and we’ll have to come around and find the next one to keep fighting those threats. 

On how excited he is about the prospect of playing Thomas Partey and Declan Rice together…

I think they only played in the Community Shield together in midfield, but after that, no. That tells you as well how much we have missed Thomas the whole season, a player like him who hasn’t really played much with us, and the impact that he can have for the last three months can be really big. 

On his players being hungry for success…

The target is clear, it’s to be better every single day, and when it comes to the weekend, earn the right to win, and do everything that you possibly can to earn the right to win the game. And this is the focus, and the way I see them train every day gives me more reasons to believe that we’ll have a good chance because they really want it. 

On Partey’s presence potentially bringing out the best in Rice…

For sure, we have to see that chemistry on the pitch and those qualities and the things that we have to tweak around them to make sure they play to their strengths and they make each other better, but I think that would be a very powerful midfield. 

On whether Saka can target 25 goals a season…

I hope he’s doing that, because he can become much better. I think he can get in better positions still, he’s finishing, especially with certain surfaces, has to improve, and his timing as well, so he can do better. 

On returning players giving him a headache when it comes to team selection…

Yes, but first of all, putting always the intention to say, OK, what is the best way to hurt this opponent and what is the best line-up to give us the best chance to win the game. And that has to [be the team that] starts. There’s always the difficulty of putting one player on the bench or starting another. We’re going to have a lot of time and minutes for a lot of players in the next three months. 

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Per's cojones

People forget just how massive Partey’s performances are, the guy will lock us down even further in defence and provide us further creativity with his press resistance. I remember Partey’s last performance for us where he came on for 20 mins against City and completely changed the tide and even delivered the ball that Havertz knocked down into Martinelli’s path.

He’s going to be absolutely crucial in the run in and provide us solidity especially in the big away games at Liverpool and City.

karl g

There’s never been any question of Thomas’s quality; it’s more that he has appeared in less than the games since he arrived. I’m really hoping he can make the last part of the season.


I’m ok with him just playing the last 3 months of the season. He’s that good. A true finisher! Seriously, he could be the differ nice this year.
TP5 back is HUGE.

Man Manny

I am not sure anybody has forgotten “how massive Partey’s performances are.” What we have forgotten is the last time he put in those massive performances.


Very excited about his return. I love watching him play


When are Liverpool and Man City dropping points? 😭 That Núñez goal hurt me so much…. And United, well I hoped they could at least defend till the end


They’ll play against each other over the weekend. One way or the other points are going to be dropped.

Left Testicle

VAR will ensure they both get three points! 🙂




A draw is the best IMHO

Johnny 4 Hats

IMHO Liverpool are no real threat and will fade away. I just don’t think they are that good and they have a lot of games to play.

I’d much prefer a Liverpool win. I really think it’s going to be us vs City again.

Santi’s Phonebox

This is the way.


I have somehow come to loath Liverpool more. Their coach is so annoying and arrogant and that is then excused as just passion by sections of the media. The arrogance of that fan base to compare him to Wenger in terms of greatness will only be fueled by another epl win. I can’t have that. If not us i will rather City. Atleast they will always he tainted by 115 charges.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Anybody can explain why Everton got points deduction and nothing is happening to City? Not surprisingly media are not interested but even competition fans not interested?


I love your confidence, but mathematically pool winning and salah rested after international break makes them very dangerous. Alex Ferguson won his last title with a shit team and van persie, I am seeing similarities.
If van dyk pulls up, they will collapse though

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Show a bit of respect to Wazza, please.

Declan Fried Rice with Egg

0-0 with a bunch of red cards and injuries for both sides would be very much appreciated.

But first… Sheffield tonight!


Onyango who would rather win between them? And don’t chicken out and say draw😁


I prefer a draw,but if I had to pick a winner,I’d say Liverpool. Being the home team,you’d expect the game to go their way to an extent. City losing three points would lessen the pressure on us going to Etihad.Overall,I’m more worried of City because they have the experience in the run-in and fewer injuries than Pool. Liverpool will likely still drop points,particularly if they advance to the latter stages of the Europa League.

Emi Rates

As if it’s not bizarre enough to be sat there rooting for Man U yesterday, they are also painfully shite to watch now.


That goal felt like a kick in the teeth

Emi Rates

The Nunez goal was as painful as the Rashford goal was pleasant.

Me and the wife watched Man U – Citeh yesterday and just as she’s asked me about Rashford and I’ve told her how shit he is he scores that absolute rocket. We both laughed and then he made up for it by being crap the rest of the game.


I was hurt more by the double incompetence of the referee and the daftness of NOF players.

karl g

That was a serious piece of luck Liverpool got against Forest. They could easily have conceded a penalty and then the drop ball was wrongly given to Kelleher. Play stopped with Forest in possession.


We have to let them get on with their own teams ! We will look after our own performances & finish where we deserve to be ! There is no wiggle room against City & I do wonder why with all the charges nothing seems to get done ! Late 2025 from what I hear Just wrong but it is what it is !
Anyway ? We’re bloody brilliant so stop us if you can !!!

Teryima Adi

The Partey-Rice combo sounds delicious.😀

I miss santi cazorla

With the rice party midfield and white saliba gabi and zinny/tomi in the defence we not only can beat city but dominate them at their home. The title is ours, just want a better luck with Party injury and quick return of Zinny and Tomi.

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

If we have Kiwior at LB, partey in mid and Kai at 9 for certain games, then that is some serious height / power in the line up – could be very useful in certain fixtures (imagine the chaos on set pieces too)


Watched the Manc Derby yesterday obviously with a Utd hat on and my goodness, I know they’ve had their struggles but that has to be one of the weakest Utd teams in my lifetime, they’re awful! And I remember Ron Atkinson’s Utd. Not just ability wise but their mentality… you could literally see the lack of belief in their eyes, in their body language. The tangible inferiority complex, I think, was summed up with Rashford in the clear, feeling Walker on his back and instead of cutting across him to stave off the challenge and whipping it past Onana (which… Read more »

Man Manny

Pundits still place us the third likely team to win the Epl this season. That’s okay; it is good for the team to be under the radar. But that will end when we leave the Etihad with the three points and keep our place at the top of the league come March 31st. (I expect Liverpool vs City to end in a draw after we might have beaten Brentford. That leaves us top of the league on goal difference.)


I think it is silly not to be concerned about Liverpool. “Not that good”, eh? Just better than everyone else I guess. If we win all our games we finish above City. We HAVE to count on Liverpool dropping points elsewhere. Both teams have big players coming back into the team in Salah and KDB. The last minute winner was a real kick in the teeth, but watching the Manchester Derby, United were never really playing well enough to take anything from the game. Could have been 5 or 6-0 and been a fair result.

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