‘Impressive’ PSV have been ‘really dominant,’ admits Mikel Arteta ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League tie

Addressing the media at Philips Stadion on Monday evening, Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta was quick to praise PSV Eindhoven as the two teams prepare to go face to face in their final UEFA Champions League group fixture. The Spaniard also offered updates on youth prospects and injury news.

PSV ‘have been extremely dominant’

Arteta told reporters that it is ‘really impressive how [PSV] play, the consistency, the way they are winning football matches. They’ve been extremely dominant, not only this season but last season as well and huge credit to the manager, the coaching staff and players for what they’ve done. When you look at the record that they have here, it’s incredible so we’re going to have to be really good tomorrow to beat them.’

Saka is ‘fine’ but Timber set for ‘a long time on the sidelines

Asked for the customary updates on injuries within the squad, Arteta insisted that Bukayo Saka is ‘fine’ despite the Englishman’s absence from training on Monday. ‘With a few of the players we decided to give them another day’s recovery… some of them have played a lot of minutes! We’ve already done what we had to do inside, so it wasn’t worth putting them out and exposing them outside today,’ he explained.

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Jurrien Timber’s road to recovery is continuing, with the defender ‘doing very well. Obviously he’s going through a really significant injury but he’s flying to be fair, the stage he is right now. The way he works every single day is incredibly satisfying to watch but unfortunately we’re going to miss him still for a long time.’

‘The first few steps are crucial for that injury, for the amount of work they have to do for the knee to be resolved and get some activity and mobility back and start to build the strength. Especially how the head is throughout that period, I think he’s in a really good place.’

Youngsters ‘deserve to be here’

Reuell Walters, Lino Sousa and Ethan Nwaneri have all been named in Mikel Arteta’s travelling squad, heading to Eindhoven as part of the first team setup. Arteta referred to the trio as ‘three big prospects’ who ‘deserve to be here.’

‘We want to bring a lot of players from a system and they deserve to be here. The circumstances have got them into this position. They’re still really really young but we want to get them the experience because they have the talent hopefully to be very close to us. We’ll try to give them the opportunity if we can in the right moment.’

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‘We have certain needs in certain positions. Some others we decided because of the necessities we have and how we might use those players tomorrow, so they were the best ones to bring,’ he added.

Arteta was also keen to express his love of developing youth players and seeing them named in first team squads, citing the energy and enthusiasm that they have. ‘When you work in a meeting, or you talk to them, they have that energy, the eyes are open, there is a lot of enthusiasm. There is something fresh, something new and I have been there. Once you have been in that position you feel a huge sympathy for those moments. Everyone really wants to help them, I really want to help to fulfil their dream and hopefully we can achieve that,’ he told reporters.

‘Our duty as representatives of Arsenal is to win every game’

Despite the fact that Arsenal have already sealed their progression to the knockouts of the UEFA Champions League as Group B winners, Arteta insists that the squad’s ‘duty as representatives of Arsenal is to win every game’ – meaning youth players may not feature in the match.

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‘We have five or six big injuries, so we are already a bit thin,’ he explained. ‘I don’t know in a different context what I would have done. But as well I want everyone together, and everyone together with the mentality to win. I want to see in the tummy of the players tomorrow that although the job technically is done, it is not completely done. Our duty as representatives of Arsenal is to win every game and tomorrow we need a big performance against a team that is going to make it very difficult like they have shown in the past two years here.’

‘I think on TV, it looks easier [to break into the first team]. If one day we give them a chance to train with the boys, they will probably realise that the level is really, really high. The demand that the game has got right now is huge and the competition is huge as well, because we can pick players from anywhere in the world and we have the ability to do that. But I’m very positive with the few that we have at the moment.’