After seeing us beat Wolves 2-0 to go five points clear at the top of the table, Mikel Arteta faced the media for the last time before the World Cup break.
Martin Odegaard’s brace saw us beat our opponents and end our run of 44 days without Premier League football, and Arteta spoke about how that gap will affect us at the start, as well as headlines many more about the Molineux meeting.
Here’s what he had to say in his post-match press conference:
on how clear five points after 14 games are important:
It’s great to be where we are. We enjoy that time, and we have a great rest. We have to think about what we are doing, and prepare a lot for what will come after the World Cup. But, our goal is to play well as a team every day; to be better equipped to do what we want to do in that area. I can say that it has been amazing to work with this cast and crew.
as to whether he’s upset that we’re so broke now with so much power:
When the team is at that moment, you want to keep playing clearly, but it’s not possible. We have to use the time now in the best way so that the players who are not participating in the World Cup, have a rest period, which they fully deserve. And the rest [will] just fulfill the dream that every child had, when they had the opportunity to represent their national team in the World Cup. It doesn’t get much better than that.
on whether Odegaard not going to the World Cup will make a big difference to the restart:
I have no idea. Obviously he has two internationals before that so he will commit to the national team. After that, we will try to prepare him in the best way. But we don’t know; when you’re in a rhythm and when you’re competing, sometimes it’s better. So the players here will need to compete and have enough practice to be able to play the right way against West Ham. We will try to prepare them in that way.
on the decision to make Odegaard manager:
Must be [a big decision], he is a leader in his own way, in his character, he is an amazing person, he is a football player and what he does at his age is not easy. We are really happy to have him.
on Odegaard adding goals to his game this season:
That’s what you want, your attacking players to win games not just to help them but to get points. He has changed that attitude, he practices a lot and wants to reach his potential, which we don’t know what his limit is like many other children we have. That’s what we want, embrace the good times and support them when they’re not so good.
About Granit Xhaka coming out:
Well, he wasn’t feeling well and Granit raised his hand and said: ‘I need to get off’. He was not feeling well at all. We had a couple of guys with stomach problems and obviously we can’t change three or four in the first half, but I’m glad we adapted to those situations and were able to win the game.
reflecting on our season so far:
I need a week or so to do that. Obviously, no one expected us to be where we are now and the number of games we have been able to win, but I am very focused on the way we play and the way we live together, the situation we have in this dressing room. and around Colney and what we have produced with our supporters in our stadium and the relationship between each member of the team is stronger, and my job is to focus after playing the game each one well.
on how it exceeded his expectations of what is possible with this team:
Yes, but I take it day by day and not game by game. I understand that if we do the daily things well and commit to doing those things well every day, everyone will contribute to making the team better and that’s what you I’m what I want.
on whether there was an outbreak of sickness around the club’s hotel:
Not overnight. I think it was after the pre-game meal but I didn’t even know about it. And the doctor was trying to fix a certain area, because they were not feeling well.
on how he and the team watched the Manchester City game:
Yes. We were on the bus. We all watched it together, as we usually do with many other sports.
on the club’s reaction to Toney’s Manchester City goal:
As you can imagine.
on how thinking about other groups can sometimes make you lose your focus:
That’s how you live in this league and it’s good that you start doing that in the second game of the season because the competition is so big that you really look at other opponents and I think that’s something that every team has which does. . When I was in other clubs, we did it all the time. As a player or as a coach and it’s natural.
But now you have to focus on your thing, your performance and winning the game. This week, I think it was very tricky because there were a lot of things around the World Cup and certain people, but the boys did what they had to do.
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