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 strike saw us overcome our opponents and keep our momentum going in a 44-day break without Premier League football, and Arteta spoke about whether that difference will affect us after the restart, as well as a host of other topics surrounding the Molineux encounter.
Here’s all he had to say in his post-match press conference:
on whether a five-point lead after 14 games matters:
It’s great to be where we are. We are enjoying the moment and we have a big break. We have to rethink what we are doing and be very prepared for what happens after the World Cup. But our goal is to play better as a team every day; to have better tools to do what we want in this field. I can say that it has been phenomenal to work with these players and staff.
on whether he is displeased that we are now breaking with so much momentum:
When the team is at that point, you definitely want to keep playing, but you can’t. We have to make the best use of the time at the moment so that the players who are not at the World Cup have the time off that they fully deserve. And the rest [will] just fulfill the dream that every child has had when they had the opportunity to represent their national team in the World Cup. It doesn’t get any better than that.
on whether Odegaard will not go to the World Cup will resume with a big difference:
I have no clue. He’s obviously had two caps before that, so he’s going to be involved with the national team. After that, we will try to prepare him in the best possible way. But we don’t know; when you are in rhythm and when you are competing, sometimes it is much better. So the players that are here will have to compete and be fit enough to play properly against West Ham. We will try to prepare them in this way.
on the decision to appoint Odegaard as captain:
It is [a big decision], he is a leader in his own way, with his character, he is a fantastic person, he is a fantastic footballer and what he does at his age is not easy. We are really happy for him.
Odegaard added a goal to his game this season:
That’s what you want your attacking midfielders to win games and not just assist them but score goals. He has changed that mentality, he trains a lot and wants to be the best, we don’t know what his limit is like many of our other kids. That’s what we want, embrace the good moments and support them when they’re not so good.
on the release of Granit Xhaka:
He’s fine, he didn’t feel good, and Granite raised his hand and said, “I’ve got to get out.” He didn’t feel well at all. We had some boys with stomach problems and of course we can’t change three or four in the first half, but I’m glad we adapted to those conditions and managed to win the game.
reflecting on our season so far:
It takes me a week to do it. Obviously nobody expected us to be where we are now and the number of games we’ve managed to win, but I’m more focused on the way we play and the way we live together, the atmosphere in that dressing room. and around Colney and what we’ve created with our supporters in our stadium and the relationship between every member of the club and it’s much stronger and my job is to focus on playing better every game.
on whether it has exceeded his own expectations of what is possible with this team:
Yes, but I take it day by day and not even game by game. I understand that the better we do the day-to-day things and commit to doing them better every day, each individual will contribute to make the team better, and I want that too.
on whether there was a sickness bug around the team hotel:
Not overnight. I think it was after the pre-game meal, but I didn’t even know about that. And the doctor tried to fix some place because they didn’t feel well.
on whether 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 games.
on the team’s reaction when Toni scored against Manchester City:
As you can imagine.
on whether thinking about other teams can sometimes make you lose focus:
That’s the way you live in this league, and that’s the beauty of it, and you start to do that in the second game of the season because the competition is so great that you really look at other opponents, and I think every team does. . When I’ve been on other teams, we’ve done it all the time. As a player or as a coach, and that’s natural.
But then you have to focus on your business, your performance and winning the game. This week I think it was very difficult because there were too many things with the World Cup and individuals, but the boys did what they had to do.
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