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Arteta on Tottenham, the top four and transfers

by Koolkola

Mikel Arteta faced the media ahead of our north London derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday night.

The boss discussed the latest team news, Eddie Nketiah’s future, the top-four race, the threat of Antonio Conte’s side and much more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on team news ahead of the game…

Thomas (Partey) is still out, Kieran (Tierney) is still out and with Ben he is still a doubt, we have to assess him and see how he is feeling, which is much better. With Bukayo it’s the same.

on how he rates White’s and Saka’s chances…

It’s very difficult to rate with injuries, it’s just how they feel today, that’s the last day that we can assess them and try to get the feeling, basically.

on the challenge facing him…

It’s the most exciting one, probably. But we had others when we played finals against Chelsea and Liverpool in the FA Cup and the Community Shield, it was the same. When you have the opportunity to achieve one of your objectives in the season, you just cannot wait to play the game because this is a job, and the work you have done throughout the season to try to earn it.

on whether it will be better to achieve it away to Tottenham…

The message is clear, if we win against them we are in the Champions League next season. You don’t need any motivation or to tell them anything more than that. The opportunity is there, we are going to play and go for it like we always do It’s how we have got into this position, and it’s how we are going to approach it.

on Manchester City signing Erling Haaland…

We expect that every team is going to reinforce and get better every single year. That’s been the case in the last three or four years in particular and you can see the standard and the level of the top teams in the league, which is unprecedented in Premier League history and that’s the level. It’s only going to get more and more difficult. All the panning we have to do is to try to get to that level.

on speculation around Gabriel Jesus…

You know that I don’t talk about any players that are not with us.

on having an employee giving the team talk before the Tottenham home game…

We try to approach every game emotionally as well the best way, with moments and people that can describe what a game means better than I do, or in a different way than I do. We always try to find the right way to get the players in the right mindset to play the game that they have to play that day.

on what he has got planned this week…

Whatever we do it’s always (inside) or closed, and we will continue to do that.

on it being a new experience at a full stadium for a lot of players…

It’s different because the history of north London, we all know about it, and what it means to our fans. After that it’s a football pitch with a lot of noise and a crowd that will be excited to support their team, and we’ll have our fans as well for sure one hundred percent behind the team.

on whether it’s better to win the north London derby as a player or a manager…

The winning factor is always the best feeling! It’s different obviously as a player and manager, but in every occassion, it’s not just about winnimg, it’s about how you win those matches and the experience that you go through throughout the 90 minutes, especially when you play at home in front of your crowd.

on the home north London derby earlier in the season…

It’s a lot of moments I think that defined the season, especially ones that happened against Norwich at home as well it was a turning point, and then we went to Burnley and we managed to win and then we had that game that we capitalised on and went to the next, but it’s a difficult. It’s a moment emotionally, that attachment with the fans helps to generate some moment and at the time it certainly did.

on how big this game feels…

Well, we all know where we want to be and the competition that we want to be involved in and in order to be able to do that we have to achieve through the Premier League this season what we want to do and the opportunity now is ahead of us.

on bouncing back from the start of the season…

This is football. Things turn around really quickly, both ways, and just be surrounded by good people, make sure you believe in what you do, be consistent with it and then, I think with time, things happened in the way that they have to happen, but in football, sometimes they don’t. So you need that element of luck as well, you need the element of support and you need that ball to get in the net at the right moment when it needs to be.

on being driven on by criticism…

Well, you have to be prepared for that. This club is built on the history and tells you that you have to be the best in the country and you have to win every competition you’re involved with, and we have to deal with that pressure, and when you’re not delivering results it’s part of the job

on whether Champions League qualification is like winning a trophy…

I have heard that quote now many times from many different managers and I think Arsene was the first one who said it because he could probably see what was happening in this league and the difficulty of achieving that. It was the way he described it and it was the way that he felt, and I feel that for the club it would be extremely important.

on whether this night would rival the title-winning games…

Hopefully we can have this conversation and that can happen tomorrow, then we can see what happens and what the fans would like to do.

on it not all being on this result…

For me, it’s more about excitement and the opportunity and when you have that in football you have to go and deliver and do it. That’s the mindset we all have for tomorrow.

on whether it takes the pressure off…

For me it’s not about the pressure again, it’s about having that inner belief that tomorrow is the day and tomorrow we want to achieve what we have earned.

on his preparation…

We always do it, just to prepare the players for what they can expect, how they can handle certain situations and try to make them visualise the game before they play it. It won’t be different for this game.

on whether the game being rearranged is an advantage…

There are so many things that happened throughout the season, that (makes it) very difficult to answer that question. What happened is a long time ago now, and this is the game that we have to play, and we haven’t decided in many other moments when we play games and when games were postponed, and we haven’t done for this occasion either.

on whether Spurs are stronger now…

I don’t know, let’s see tomorrow. It’s true that it’s many months a go that game, and we are much closer to the end, and the game has taken a much different level of importance because of the situation that we both are (in).

on whether he is looking for a striker in the summer…

I am looking for the strikers that we have in the team, and this is my focus. We have three games to go and that’s the only thing I am focussing on.

on whether Edu has spoken about winning away to Tottenham…

Yeah we have spoken, not recently but on many occasions about what they did that season, how they won it, and it’s great. That’s why it’s very important to have (ex players around) who have been through things that this squad have not been able to deliver yet. To share those experiences and help us.

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