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Every word Mikel Arteta said on Bukayo Saka, Partey’s fitness, Aubameyang’s form and Benfica



IsBukayoSaka one of the most important players in Arsenal’s team right now?

Certainly his form in recent months shows that he’s a very important player for us. I think he’s getting better and better, his performance levels have been really consistent, so that makes him for sure one of the most important players in recent months.

Is that unusual for a young player to be so consistent?

It is very unusual but he’s been doing a lot of unusual things. He’s dealing with things at his age in a very unusual way, but that’s why he’s showing what he’s showing, because his maturity is above his age and so is his intelligence as well.

You have the away goal but it’s strange given that you have to travel four hours to play the home leg. How do you see this tie?

I think it’s different. The away goal is always important but in this case, in this context I don’t think it’s that relevant. We take the game like there is everything still to play for. It’s the second half of the game and we need to go there to try to go to win the game. Because any other thing, without the fans, without being in our stadium or anything, I think makes the game very tricky.

How do you feel about their potentially being some fans back for the end of season?

To be fair, I cannot wait to have our fans back in the stadium. I think all the players and everyone at the club is desperate to have our fans back at the Emirates because they make a huge difference. For me personally as well, because the energy they are able to create, the motivation that they create, the passion that they can show in the stadium for our players, I think is something we’ve really been missing.

I’ve said it before, to feel part of something that you are trying to do without sharing it with the people that really matters is very empty at the end. It’s lacking a lot of the emotional parts are the beauty of this game so hopefully we can have them back very, very soon.

IsParteyback and available and what’s the situation with Rob Holding?

Thomas is very close. He’s got a final test today in training. If he’s feeling good, he will be available to play the match. Regarding Rob, he’s not available. He had a concussion, we tested him and he’s completely fine but obviously now we need to follow the protocols and he won’t be able to travel.

Is the Europa League the best way of getting into the Champions League next season and is the possibility of a top four finish now gone?

I think while mathematically everything is possible, in football you have to try so hard. We’re going to do that in the league for sure. It’s true that the Europa League gives you a completely different route and is a competition that we want to carry on playing, and try to win it.

Tomorrow is another opportunity to make a step forward. The better we are in the Europa League, the better we’re going to be performing in the league and vice-versa. We need to be alive in both competitions.

HectorBellerindescribed you as a brother when he was coming through at Arsenal in his documentary. Do you feel you have that relationship with him?

If you asked me that question a few years ago I’d probably say if he feels that way it’s nice because we had a really strong relationship and I tried to help him as much as I could. Now it’s a different relationship. Obviously, when you know the person and you know the professional, it’s easier to help them becuase you know how he feels, you know what he needs and how to get the best out of him.

It’s true that this season he’s found much more consistency, he’s been available in many more matches and hopefully, he’s now forgotten the last two years when injuries meant he wasn’t able to play as much. full story


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