Every word from the Meckel press before Zurich | press conference | News

Moments after arriving in Switzerland this evening, Mikel Arteta held his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow night’s opening match in the Europa League group stage against FC Zurich.

The president answered questions from the local and mobile media at the Kebonpark in St Gallen on a range of topics, including team selection, injuries and local idol Granit Xhaka.

Here’s all he said:

When bringing in a strong team – and if this is an indication of trying to qualify as quickly as possible:

We don’t have that many players available, unfortunately, because of the injuries we’ve had in the past two weeks. This is a competition that we want to take seriously, against an opponent who will make life difficult for us. We want to start the competition the right way and maintain our momentum.

Having not won a European competition in nearly 30 years:

This is a long time and I would like to be the first to break this negative record. You have to start somewhere – that’s tomorrow. We need to start well and earn the right to win the match.

If we saw the benefits of running a Gabriel Martinelli lecturer in the past:

I don’t know – we just tried to make a decision based on what we see and where the players are and what space they have in the team. When we think they are ready to step in and put their bids on and expose them it is only fair for players to ask for certain things that you are exposed to at this club. Now you see a player who has tremendous talent and who consistently performs at a very high level. He needs to keep doing that and keep getting better.

If he was surprised that Thomas Tuchel left Chelsea:

I was – right before the training session when we got the news. It’s always sad when a colleague in this profession gets fired. Unfortunately, we know how this works. I wish him good luck. It is not good to hear this news.

If you make him appreciate his stability:

What makes me realize is what I’ve always told you: We have a career at some point, this [can] is happening. We have to prevent that, enjoy the ride and have fun every day, because you never know when that will come.

On Emile Smith Rowe:

Felt discomfort in the area [he’s been dealing with] Now for a few weeks. He wasn’t comfortable after the match and hadn’t trained for the past few days, so he was left out of the squad.

On Xhaka’s new role and evolution in it:

He has a different role this year – he’s in more advanced areas and I think he’s playing really well. He’s been really consistent this season and he’s a really important player for us.

On Tierney and how he reacted to not playing when Zinchenko was fit:

Well, first of all, Kieran has been through a period of three or four months with the injury. He’s back, he’s in a good place and what we want is competition for every position. His position is no different.

On how to convince Xhaka to stay three years ago:

I gave him my opinion of the situation and tried to explain the reasoning for why I thought leaving at that moment wasn’t the best idea. Knowing his character and how he is, I thought he would regret it. After that, day in and day out he earned the respect of everyone in the club and all of our fans and he was playing really well for us.

On Fabio Vieira and if that helped him stay out of the spotlight early in the season:

We were looking for players who could play in three positions on the front line and in the positions of the attacking midfielder. We were looking for very specific qualities in the market and when I saw it, I really liked what I saw. Right away, I was convinced that he was a player who could help us take it to the next level and that he had the right personality and personality to play for our club.

It is a shame that we discovered an infection during our medical examination. He hasn’t had any pre-season and everything has been delayed, but I hope you’ll see a lot of him in the next few weeks and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

On how he evaluates FC Zurich – and what is the biggest danger to us:

The biggest danger is that after last season, they haven’t got the results they expected. You can see how ready they are to win football matches. This is a different competition, a different context and I expect the team to be very ready tomorrow.

On Bernd Leno’s comments after leaving the club – and how he’ll explain it:

I’m really surprised. I don’t know if he was talking about politics when he started every game or politics when he wasn’t playing. I’m really surprised by that.

On whether there is a plan to give Bukayo Saka protection in terms of minutes before the World Cup:

We will try – if the squad and performance allow us, we will do our best to manage his load and make him on the field in the best possible condition. After November we have something we haven’t seen before.

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