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Arteta’s first press conference back

It was a conference that saw a wandering array of questions tossed to the boss from health and fitness to this week’s Arsenal, City matchup. The influences of Pep were discussed, as well as, the unavoidable, Aubameyang and Saka contract questions.

Today, Arteta gave his first press conference for the media since before  the pandemic saw the season come to a screeching halt. However, unlike ever before, this conference came to those on the list via Zoom, giving them the chance to pepper the boss with questions from the comforts of their own home.

It was a conference that saw a wandering array of questions tossed to the boss from health and fitness to this week’s Arsenal, City matchup. The influences of Pep were discussed, as well as, the unavoidable, Aubameyang and Saka contract questions.

You can read  Arsenal’s full report on the interview here.

Some of the highlights:

on the fitness of the squad…

So far everybody is okay, we will see how training goes tomorrow to pick the right team and the right squad. Again, it is going to be different with the amount fo substitutes that we can have on the bench and the amount of substitutes that we can do, so we have to think about how we can do that.

on the influence Pep Guardiola has had on him…

Well, he was an influence for me since I was 15 years old and we met at Barcelona, both as players. And in my coaching career and my personal life, he has an enormous influence. If I have to talk about the person he is, his values, the way he has treated me and how he deals with the players and the staff around him, its phenomenal. As a coach, I have learned so much from him, we have spent some amazing moments together, some difficult ones as well, but the experience next to him has been incredible.

on being unbeaten domestically in 2020 and whether lockdown will disrupt that…

I hope it doesn’t. We’ve been working to try and maintain and improve the level that we were playing at before and improve the result as well, but there are some uncertainties that we don’t know how we’re going to respond to. All I can tell you is that we’ve been doing as much as possible to try to get into this moment with the best possible chance.

on whether this run of games will give additional opportunities to young players…

They have to keep developing and one of the biggest challenges is always consistency. They have been doing it for a certain period of time, for certain moments of certain games but to do it consistently for every three days for 94 or 96 minutes, that’s a different story. In order to do that and develop the right way, they need the right players next to them, with the right mentality, with the right qualities and with the right drive. That’s what we have to do, we have to give them the right foundations around them for them to be in order to feel free to develop, without the extra pressure that they don’t need in these moments and they cannot carry on. We don’t give them too much responsibility too early, because there is always a risk to burn them.

These are great answers and its great to see Arteta back in front of the camera talking to the press and fans in a similar fashion to what won them over when he first entered as manager. He has a great way of being honest, open, and hitting on the very same points that fans are seeing – something Emery failed to do.

However, much of the conversation did focus on Saka and Aubameyang’s future. You can read those specific comments here.

Arteta makes is pretty clear that he believe the onus is on him, the club, and the team to reassure and show him that his future, and likely the remainder of is career, should be given to Arsenal.

“I think it is our responsibility to make him feel this is the right next step in his career. In order to do that, he needs to feel valued, he needs to feel he belongs to us and we want him, and then he really needs to believe that we can take the club forward in the way we want to do, and he is going to be a key player to do that. At the moment I am extremely happy with how he has been performing and behaving, I have a really good relationship with him where we can discuss face to face a lot of things. As far as I am aware, he is very happy at the club.”

One of the major concerns that people had after Pierre’s interview was when he commented on not having received a contract offer recently. Immediately fans jumped on this with a bit of animosity toward the club, wondering what they had been doing in recent months.

Arteta was asked about this and essentially told people that this time had effected their ability to be in contact with Aubameyang and the stakeholders in his camp that help negotiate his future. He did have some assurances that they have been in contact with Aubameyang.

“We’ve had many discussions with Pierre, his family and agent, and I’m pretty positive that we can find the right agreement for all parties.”

When it came to Bakayo Saka Arteta said; “We are trying, as a club, to finalise the deals that are more urgent and are a priority for us. The ones you are talking about [Bukayo and Auba] – they are both really important, not just for now but for the future of the club as well and if the club has something to announce, they will do it in the right moment.”

An interesting use of the word “finalize”. Reading into this, it makes me wonder if there has been some verbal agreements or some sound intents set and now it is just about details for young Bakayo Saka. More to come soon!

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