Can we start with team news and most notably Bukayo Saka?
We have a training session today. We have two or three players that finished the game with some issues. We have to repeat them today.
How’s Bukayo looking as you understand it?
He hasn’t trained yet so we have to assess today and see how he is.
Alexandre Lacazette had an impact the other night with the goal. What more does he have to do to play more regularly?
To keep doing what he’s doing. He had a good impact as well against Brighton. He’s a player who since I’ve been here has played a lot and been important, and he will continue to be important.
You said against Palace that you were guilty of playing with the handbrake on. What can you do to ensure that doesn’t happen?
That after scoring the goal and after hitting the level of performance that we’re hitting again after the first part of the game just make sure that we go for the second ball and we continue to play with the same fluidity and the same intention that we’re going to start to defend something that we have earned. Because the game is really long and we have to do that for longer periods of the game.
How do you see Aston Villa as a test?
It is a test. They have shown how difficult they can be against us, because we haven’t got the results that we wanted against them recently. So, we know they have improved their squad, the way they have play a lot in the last few seasons. They are showing a lot of ambition the way they are recruiting as well, and it will be a difficult game for sure.
Will you tell us who the two or three are who you have concerns over?
No. Just that there are a few.
Go on tell us
If you were a betting man would you back Bukayo’s chances of being available tomorrow?
I’m not a betting man and it’s down to the doctors and himself to see how recovers and how he’s feeling between today and tomorrow.
He’s important to you though isn’t he?
He’s very important and he’s shown how important he is for the team.
You must have noticed the impact Lacazette had on the crowd when he came on
Well I think he was able to transmit that energy and that was contagious for the rest of the team and the stadium. He created a different atmosphere straight away with his energy, with his quality as well, and the determination that he had to change the result straight away, that belief that he had in himself that he could do it.
He can start talking to clubs abroad from the first of January. Is that a shame?
It’s the situation that we have and we have to accept it. I cannot ask anything from the player with the way he’s dealing with that situation. It’s not an individual situation, it’s a situation that has a knock on effect on others that we have to deal with in the past as well and still now to see what the best option is going to be for everybody this season.
It’s a credit to him that he’s still able to put his head down given the circumstances
I had no doubts about that. If I did I would probably have suggested to do something different in the summer. With a player sometimes the motivation can be just his financial future. It’s not the case with Laca. He showed that since I’ve been here every single day and that’s why he’s a really important player for this team.
If it were down to you would he be staying?
Well he’s our player. And I treat him like every other player not just because he has a year left or more years left am I going to treat him differently. That’s why he deserves it.
What do you make of the job Dean Smith is doing?
I really like him first of all as a person. Everything I’ve heard from him is really, really positive. He’s building a team, and a club with different ambitions, and credit to him and to the owners obviously for giving him the time and the credit to do that. He’s doing a really good job.