Mikel Arteta addressed the media at Arsenal’s London Colney training facility ahead of the Gunners‘ journey to West London. The Spaniard aims for another positive result, in what’ll be his 200th game in charge.
Arteta was calm in his approach to the press on Friday morning. He walked attendees through the key availability of his squad, and looked briefly at opposition Brentford in his 200th all-competitions outing at the Arsenal helm.
Starting off with the general housekeeping, Arteta was asked about some contentious names. Martin Ødegaard’s involvement was called into question after picking up a concussion against Newcastle United.
‘We didn’t know how many days, it depends on certain things. We got more delayed than we wanted but we have to protect the player.’
The team has been hit at both ends recently, and Arteta shed some light on the progress of both Gabriel Jesus and Ben White.
‘[Gabriel Jesus] is available, he played 96, 97 minutes in a really competitive match. I’ve had to see the condition of every player to make the final call in the lineup.’Embed from Getty Images
‘Again, hopefully if he [Ben White] has trained today [Friday], he’s going to be available to play. He’s a question mark in the next few hours.”
Coming in on loan from the Bees, David Raya is ineligible to start against his parent club. Aaron Ramsdale’s attitude and personality were brought to the fore with time as number two, and his manager provided an update on his goalkeeper’s all round preparation.
‘I think every player is willing to play, obviously. They’re all excited to play. They are always expecting to play and sometimes I’ll disappoint them the day before or a few hours before the match but every player expects to play.’
With the prospect of a good game, would he be in the running the game after? Arteta jokingly responded that ‘hopefully, he doesn’t have to stop two penalties and has an amazing game!’
Transfer mentions: Timber’s integration, Tomiyasu departure?
One man desperate to have an ‘amazing game’ is Jurrien Timber. However, a lot of his progress at the club has been stunted due to a cruel injury which has seen him sidelined practically since his arrival in the summer. Arteta ensured that the former Ajax man has still made a difference.
‘He’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. You talk to anyone in that building, or anybody that gets close to him – he’s a very special guy. We were really impressed when we signed him because sometimes when you see that player live, or training in that environment live you go ‘wow, what an incredible player’ but then that player has a big setback and a difficult moment to go through. It’s really special the way he’s handled the situation.’Embed from Getty Images
While Timber clearly continues to make positive waves behind closed doors, Takehiro Tomiyasu is a man who has already done so – as well as on the pitch. Such is the case, that Bayern Munich have been rumoured to be monitoring the Japanese international. Mikel Arteta made his stance clear.
‘I really want him to stay. I value the player a lot, I really like him. He’s loved and respected by everyone at the club. He’s been getting a lot of minutes now, he’s at the level we need him at to make an impact and hopefully he can continue to do that.’
Focus on Frank – thoughts on his 11th placed Brentford side
Despite a sobering defeat two years ago on Brentford’s maiden Premier League voyage, Arteta’s record against the West London outfit is gleaming. Brentford are winless in their past three games against the Gunners, yet could still pose a threat. The Spanish manager’s knack for getting points off Thomas Frank’s side was brought into question.
‘Depending on how you look at it, because two years ago we had a really turbulent start to the campaign. We learned from that. They’re a really tough opponent, a really difficult place to go when you look at the stats. As you said, other clubs go there and [Brentford] make it extremely difficult. They are really effective, really well-coached. It will be a top, top match tomorrow.’Embed from Getty Images
Across the dugout, the progressive Thomas Frank proves a formidable opposition. Arteta commented on the Dane’s impact and style ahead of Saturday’s 17:30 clash. The praise was high from the gushing Arsenal boss.
‘With Thomas, and with the coaching staff, the club – they’re one of the best run clubs in the league. I’ve followed them for many, many years and the things that they do. The structure that they have, the players that they have, the vision that they have. It’s incredible what they’ve done with the resources that they have. So, huge credit to them – not only to achieve and to get to this level, but the way they maintain it as well with so many changes and environment that the Premier League demands as well.’
Outside noise – other key points from the press conference
Two intriguing subjects also touched upon by Arteta, were his battle with the Football Association recently – following remarks made after the pre-international break defeat to Newcastle. While not wholly receptive that he could’ve handled himself differently, the Arsenal boss took a diplomatic route when questioned about contacting the FA. Hindsight and figuratively rewinding the clock weren’t feasible, however.
‘Yes, we have. We will try to get our point across and why. But there’s not a lot more I can comment. There is a process and when you get asked to give your observation and explain yourself, you have to do it in the right way. We have the mechanism and the process to do that.’
‘[Rewinding the clock] is not possible. If we could do that, I’d stop it and rewind it and say ‘give the ball to him’ but we cannot do that unfortunately. Things go really fast. You learn from everything, that’s for sure.’Embed from Getty Images
Arteta is obviously synonymous with Arsenal of late, yet for years, the Spaniard’s colour of choice was blue instead of red and white. The former midfielder commented on his old club Everton’s recent financial disciplinary issues, and the docking of points which leave them in the relegation zone.
‘I feel very connected to the club and it’s a very difficult moment. It puts the club in a difficult position but they’ve been in many difficult positions. They always find a way to get out and there is a quality that I think describes that club. That courage and determination. They will fight and they will fight against anything. I wish them the best.’
As the title of this piece reflects, this Brentford clash is Mikel Arteta’s 200th all-competition outing as Arsenal manager. As the BBC reported, no matter the result, the Spaniard will have the best record of any manager in the Gunners‘ history to reach that milestone. In his first 199 games in charge, the 41-year-old has won 115 matches – compared with Arsene Wenger’s 111 and George Graham, who won 107 of their respective first 200 matches.
‘I feel really proud to reach that number. I think obviously it’s been difficult, you do have to win a lot of games and hopefully there’ll be a lot more positive things to come.’