Arsenal

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta reveals Granit Xhaka conversation and discipline worries vs Tottenham

You said you’ll make sure the players will understand what Sunday’s game means. How are you going to do that?

I will do it in the dressing room, the way I normally do things that are a little bit more private.

Will there be anything different in the way you address them though?

Well there are things. In every game we have to try and find something to relate to the game, to relate to the momentum we are in. Whether it’s a motivational thing, or something we want to reinforce or to pinch players. We have to find that little part.

How do you close the gap to the big six when other teams already ahead of you are making improvements?

Well first of all understanding what the context is. So where the rivals are, what they’ve done to achieve what they’ve done and what we have to do to get there. And then just focusing on your process and what you can control because the rest is out of your hands.

But you have to be realistic that if the gap is this big, there are things that have to be there to (reduce) this gap. There is not any other possibility because we don’t expect anybody to bring the level down. I think the opposite. I think they will try to increase the level even more.

Martin Odegaard scored in the derby in March. Is that sort of big game moment why you brought him in?

Well first of all because he’s a very consistent player, because we really like the qualities that he brings to the team, how he is around the place. And then because I think he can decide football matches and big football matches. He did that last year.

Do you see a bit of yourself in him, in that he’s young and has a lot of responsibility?

I don’t think he would like that comparison. He’s Martin. He’s an exceptional footballer. He’s still young, he’s got a big gap to develop parts of his game, his leadership attributes as well. We are on the way to help him as much as possible to fulfil his potential which I think is really big.

What turns a young player into a player that can make a difference in big games?

First of all he needs consistency. He needs trust, and he needs work behind the scenes, and he needs to protected. Once that happens he needs to start to be hungry enough to keep developing even when people say he is doing great.

And then don’t treat himself, never as a young player or even as a development player, he needs to be treated like any other player and has to perform on that pitch and sustain that level. Within the context of the pressure he’s going to be facing the better and better he becomes. And if he does that he becomes a top player. If he doesn’t he won’t.