The Gunners boss has spoken to the press ahead of his side’s Europa League group stage clash with Bodo/Glimt
Q: Have you done your homework on Bodo/Glimt?
A: We’ve done that homework. We have made the players aware of the team we’re facing tomorrow, their history and what they’ve done in the last few years. We’ve got Martin in the squad as well who knows them really well and he’s done the homework in the dressing room to make sure they know it’s going to be a tough game.
Q:How do you manage changing players but keeping momentum going?
A: That’s what we have to do and obviously the best way of doing that is how we prepare every day. Keep focused on the task and everything we’re doing well and keep being humble because there are a lot of things we have to improve still. (Keep) That willingness to become better every single day and to raise the competition between the members of the squad because now everybody wants to play tomorrow.
Q: Are Saliba, Martinelli, Saka’s contracts on the way?
A: We have to plan for the future. We are all working on it, obviously Edu and all the board is on top of it and we will try to do things in the right way, being fair and trying to plan the best possible way to reward the players that, in our opinion, have a big future for the club. When we have something to announce, we will do that.
Q: Are the days of when players ran down the contract in the past?
A: I think every player is different. What happened in the past, the people had the right reasons and tried something that was beneficial to the club. We will try and do the same thing and make sure that the club is always protected, in a good position to move forward and that the players are happy to be here.
Q: How do you rate Bodo/Glimt’s level?
A: Very high.
Q: How do you prioritise the Europa League with the other competitions so far?
A: We don’t. It’s a competition that is really important for us. We know how important it is to be on top of that group. We have tough competition, and we have to use our home advantage tomorrow.
Q: After the North London Derby win you singled out Thomas Partey for praise and spoke about ‘everything he had been through’. What exactly did you mean by that?
A: Well obviously that he hasn’t had the consistency in the past few months, with the injuries that he’s been through. He’s been in and out. With a big performance like that he contributed to the team in an exceptional way and we’re really happy with his performance.
Q: How’s his injury situation now?
A: He’s looking fine. He just needs to play regularly and consistently at that level.
Q: In the last national break Norway had help from Man City’s physio to help with Erling Haaland’s fitness. What do you make of the fact that he could now know about Martin Odegaard?
A: I think it’s something really common that staff members whether it’s physio, doctors or whatever, they work for international teams as well. The football world is so connected, we all know someone somehow who has worked there so the information is there if you want to try to find it.
Q: What did Martin say about Bodo/Glimt?
A: No we just discussed. I spoke with him about what I saw. We did the same with the staff. He was really clear, and we share the opinion, that it’s going to be a really tough match.
Q: Is this a big opportunity for Reiss Nelson now Emile Smith Rowe is out to come and impress?
A: Well obviously after the spell that he had last year on loan we wanted him back to see if there were any changes that we can really take to the next level. I think the potential is there. We always hang in there because we see something in Reiss that is special. He’s part of our academy system and now he’s going to have an opportunity. He’s been out for almost three months with an injury, he’s back now, he’s fully fit and he’s ready to play. He just needs minutes now.
Q: Can he follow in the footsteps of Emile Smith Rowe who also missed a big chunk and then came back to get into the first team?
A: That’s what he needs to do. Now he needs to show that on that pitch. His attitude, the way he’s matured and evolved in the last year or so has been really impressive. I think everybody is talking about it and now he needs to do it on the pitch.
Q: What’s Martin Odegaard’s leadership style like?
A: I think what we’ve said is true. He’s not the loudest probably, but he’s someone who’s so humble every day, he does the right things, he puts the team in front of him, he has a huge passion for this game which I really like and he wants to improve. He wants to drive this boat as quick and fast as possible and we believe he’s the right person to represent the values that we have at the club.
Q: Do you see the Europa League as a help or a hinderance?
A: Always a help. We are going to have a great atmosphere tomorrow at the Emirates and we want to produce those European nights. We know that we want to be playing yesterday and today, but this our reality at the moment and we have to accept it and it’s part of the next step. We need to make the most out of it.
Q: How much of test are weeks like this where you have a big European games and Premier League games when you weren’t in Europe last year?
It’s a test for the squad in terms of the numbers and the quality that you have. When you make changes, how much you notice that and at the same time how you are able to consistently perform at the highest level and demand from yourself that you keep doing it. It’s not something that we did last year, we have to do it this year for different reasons, but I think everyone will have to do that after the World Cup especially with the schedule that we all have.