Every word Mikel Arteta said on Saka's penalty, Nketiah's display and top four hopes

Every word Mikel Arteta said on Saka’s penalty, Nketiah’s display and top four hopes

Would you agree that your team responded well tonight when under pressure?

I totally agree. That’s the game that we had in hand. I said to them if you want to be playing Champions League football you have to come to these big stages and beat the top teams. Tonight we’ve done it and I’m really proud of them tonight, but I’m more proud of how they’ve reacted to every defeat over the past few weeks. Not only the players but as a staff and a club, and that’s what reinforces me and gives me a reminder of how lucky I am to be here.

It was a crazy game wasn’t it?

It was mentally really demanding, because everything that we’ve been through in the last few weeks, for most of those players it’s the first time they’ve been through that. Sometimes we forget about that. For some of them it’s the first time they’re playing in the Premier League and the demands and the response for that is huge. After that to still go through the moments and emotions of the game, they showed a real maturity, composition and quality to match what they (Chelsea) were doing because they are a top, top side and their manager is very, very good.

Do the Arsenal fans deserve an assist tonight?

For our fans the only thing I can say is what I’ve said all season – through difficult moments they’ve been right behind the team. I know that we had disappointments in the last few weeks with the results that we had and look how they were today again. We tell them as well that they have to be with us at the Emirates on Saturday, because we don’t have time recover and they need to be really noisy and loud to help us win the match.

READ MORE:Arsenal player ratings vs Chelsea as Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah star goal Rob Holding poor

How important was that penalty for Bukayo? It also looked like Lacazette was going to come on to take it. Was the decision always for Bukayo to take the penalty?

No. I thought Gabi was going to take it and when I saw that Bukayo was going to take it, honestly, the first thing I thought was back in the summer and what happened. But again, I said to you guys, when that happened to Bukayo it happened for a reason. He learned so much and he’s been through so much that’s why he’s having the season he’s having today. For him to have the courage to say ‘I’m going to take it again’ – because I’m sure it would have been in the back of his mind – for me it’s top order, even if he missed it.

It didn’t seem like you had that much fun today

Well with the rollercoaster that we had out there it was difficult to predict what would happen. Every time they put the screen and you could see what player was coming you are thinking wow, this game isn’t over. They are a great team.

Elneny and Nketiah haven’t played much this season. How did they come in and play so well?

It’s really simple. I said to you loads of times, the way they train. If you see the training session we had on Sunday after the defeat, if you see Mo Elneny, Rob, Nicolas Pepe, how they trained, I think it’s the reason why we won. I said to them before the game, that to good people, good things happen and we have some really, really good people in that dressing room and that shows when they are not involved, not in the good moments. They have performed today because of how they look after themselves and how much they care about the team.

Is that why you want Eddie to stay?

If there is one player that I have been unfair with I think it’s him. He has given me every right to do something different, and if Eddie doesn’t play more, it’s my fault and because as a manager I missed something or I haven’t had the courage to play him more. Today he showed me more how wrong I was.

Does a game like tonight show the gap between you and Chelsea isn’t as big as it seems?

Today it wasn’t, but the table says something different, what they did last year, and the level that they play and what they won at says something different. A game cannot blur the reality, and as a team and a squad they are in a completely different moment I think.

Were you trying to match Chelsea up on the physical side by bringing in Elneny and Holding?

I have the intuition. I see them train every day and I think this game and this moment needed a different energy around the team. There obviously was a big tactical reason because I expected them to do certain things with certain formations that we couldn’t cope with or we didn’t have a lot of capabilities to do, so we needed that flexibility in the team to adapt to what they do.

How much did you have to work on playing three at the back and how easy did they find it?

That’s a question for them. We tried to simplify it as much as possible, but it was still complicated because in attack it was to do something, in defense it was to do something, in high it was to do something, in deep it was to do something different if they were doing something different. But that’s the game and that’s way the game is evolving and that’s what these type of managers demand you to do. If you’re not able to do that it’s difficult to control the match.

Does that show how much they want Champions League football?

Yes. They’ve been really disappointed because they have the hope, they can see it there that after a long time for the club and they see that it’s there for the taking. Then you get one disappointment, two and even the third one, they say ‘we don’t deserve to lose the matches. We have 23 shots, they have two and we are losing the matches’ For some of them it’s difficult to understand. But in the gap we mentioned in this game, it’s gonna make you suffer because when you expect something, something different happens and this is the beauty and why we are all here.

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