Mikel Arteta press conference – Joe Willock development and what he expects from Newcastle
Mikel Arteta watched on as his Arsenal team pulled themselves back from the brink of disaster in Spain on Thursday night.
Arsenal down in tenth place in the Premier League and a world away from qualifying for Europe via that path, the Europa League is everything in these remaining weeks of the Gunners’ season.
On Thursday night at 2-0 down and a man sent off, Arsenal looked set to concede an even bigger defeat, only for the North London club to rally and actually pull a goal back.
Mikel Arteta now has all eyes on this coming Thursday, beating Villarreal and reaching that Europa League final.
However, sandwiched in between the two is Newcastle away in the league.
Arsenal stayed on and trained in Valencia on Friday, where Mikel Arteta also gave his pre-Newcastle press conference from.
Mikel Arteta pre-Newcastle press conference via official Arsenal site:
What Mikel Arteta expects from Newcastle:
“From the position they’re in, they’re going to come at us, they’re a really organised team, they’ve been playing much better recently so it will be tough.
“The amount of games that we are playing, every team has the capacity to make it difficult for you.”
Joe Willock’s performances for Newcastle:
“It was a difficult decision to let him go because we really like the player but he needed more game-time and needed this type of experience.
“He has stepped in at big moments for them and scored some crucial goals so that is really good news because it is great for his development.”
Assessment of the Villarreal game and how it affects preparations for Newcastle:
“Obviously it’s not the result [lost 2-1 in the semi-final first leg] that we wanted, we managed to score an away goal which is important but at the end of the day, in a semi-final you need to win at least one of the games.
“So that is in our hands, to do it in our stadium and if we do that we have a big chance to get to the final.”
Whether he will rotate for the trip to Newcastle:
“Let’s see who is available.
“We had a really demanding game again, the boys have had so many minutes so we will assess them tomorrow in the training session and see how everyone is, and try to get the line-up right.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s fitness:
“He hasn’t trained much, he is still not at the level in his physique that he should be to start. We will see again tomorrow how he is.
“Yesterday he could only play a few minutes but we managed to get him on the pitch, which is great news for us.”
On the belief that the gap can be closed or whether he’s now having to prioritise the Europa League:
“Well, the Premier League is the competition where it is not in our hands to achieve what we wanted to do, because there are other teams in front of us.
“The only thing we can control is our performances and results and this is our main focus.
“Then we know that the semi-final is the crucial moment of the season.”
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