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Arteta pleased with the performance of fringe players

by Koolkola

Mikel Arteta made a lot of unusual calls in the Europa League xi that faced Dundalk at the Emirates. The Spaniard opted to trust a mix of young players and some experience.

Runarsson got his first start in goal, with Kolasinac playing in a makeshift defence, and the likes of Willock, Nelson and Nketiah all starting.

He expressed his delight at their performance, and reveals how they have made it harder for him to select his best xi.

On the performance…

We made it look easy because we were very disciplined, we took it seriously and we were at it right from the beginning. You could see in other games what happened, the dangers when you are not 100 per cent. Any team can cause you problems. We made a lot of changes, we gave opportunities to other players that they deserved and I think they performed well.

On his fringe players…

We have a large squad. I want to give opportunities to everybody. There were players who have been really patient and training well and today they showed they are well prepared when we need them. Today they made things more difficult for me for selection. Sometimes when they don’t play, honestly, it’s not something they can do more…it’s because we have to choose players and sometimes we go for something else. There’s nothing from their side that they can do more, sometimes it’s about the quality, sometimes it’s about the tactical plan we have for the game. I’m very pleased for the performance and how they reacted today.

On keeping a clean sheet with a makeshift defence…

They were really serious. The more that we could play in the final third, the better. We didn’t have many chances to defend deep today which was a positive thing because we were a bit open there.

On Willian returning to fitness…

We missed him the last couple of weeks, as well, he had a very short pre-season because he was in quarantine. He needs a bit of rhythm, he needs to start to understand what we’re looking for from him. He looked good today, it was great to have some minutes in his legs and he’s back on track. Really good to have him back.

On Pepe’s goal…

On his right foot, which is strange but it was a great goal.

On the importance of winning…

After losing the way we lost against Leicester it was painful for us. It took us a few days to digest that defeat. We had to react straight away with a win and this type of attitude. Let’s get ready, we go to Old Trafford, we try to win again.

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