Arsenal

Every word Mikel Arteta said on assisting Saka, Lacazette’s future, top four chances and Watford

Mikel Arteta has spoken after Arsenal's 3-2 win over Watford at Vicarage Road

Do you get an assist for the third goal?

I don’t know. But if it helped the team a little bit to get what we wanted, that’s exactly what we need. Everybody can contribute somehow and I had the opportunity to do that, so it’s good

Was the performance clinical but not always controlled?

I saw that in the first minute of the game – we could have been 1-0 down. We were really good going forward and we had all the right intention and the energy to do it. We scored three magnificent goals but we didn’t have the same energy and commitment defensively. When that happens, to win a game from home, you’re going to suffer. That’s why we suffered today – because defensively we didn’t have the right structure. We didn’t detect with enough urgency the moments where they could activate certain spaces that we knew. That’s why we suffered. We conceded two and we could have conceded another one or two.

What do you put that down to?

I don’t know. Thinking sometimes that ‘yeah, I have the space and this is really good and controlling the game’ but they were not. I’m really happy that we won the game and there are a lot of positive things to take on, but that’s not going to be enough.

You looked angry after the second goal?

Because I didn’t like how we were controlling the game. We were allowing spaces against the team who, if we kept allowing that, we were going to suffer. I knew that. We had to put that right and we did it for certain periods. Then in the last 25 minutes, we lost it again. We have to show that maturity, understanding and capacity to control the game how we wanted to. At 3-1, after, we had to make 300,000 passes in the opposition half and when they have the right moment to come at us, then we can attack them. We didn’t do that. The game was open and you had the feeling that the game was open right until the end.

Who impressed you today?

You know I don’t like to highlight players. I think you could see the contribution on the goals – who was involved. They were key, but it’s about the team. Sometimes when you don’t have enough to win the match, it’s about what they have between them that gives you an edge to somehow win the match. This is what I like. I like the team.

Saka and Odegaard’s understanding?

I think it’s between them. The way the game flows, the way we attack, how we adapt our positions relating to each other, how we move the ball. The speed of the movement, the timing if it is much better, the position that we get, the threat and the sense of having the capacity to create the chances that we have done is much better and we have to keep developing that.

Are you seeing the benefit of the time in Dubai?

Probably. It can be one thing. It can be that we are playing together and constantly for longer periods which is very much needed so the understanding is better, they trust each other better, they understand when to do what in relation to what the opponent is doing so it’s good. The more they play together the better they will understand each other, simple.

Is Saka now playing at top gear?

I think Bukayo had an experience in the summer that not a lot of players would ever have and I think it was great for his career because the football world showed how much they like him and how much they respect him. That’s another thing you get much more than that in football apart from winning trophies, so I think that was a big boost for him to realise in difficult moments that people are going to give him support and the club did exactly the same as his team mates. Then it’s about leaving him that space. What he is already doing is phenomenal and he needs that room, you know? Don’t read too much, do what you do. Football is his priority in life and you can see that every day in training and he needs to continue to behave and live the way that he is doing.

Lacazette’s contribution?

He will still not be happy in that dressing room because he wants to score, but a lot of the things he does for the team are phenomenal.

Have the tough experiences this season have helped you?

I always believed that if you understand those difficult moments like a sign to do something with your life or to understand better the purpose why you are where you are, I think they can help you a lot and this is what I try to do when I have a problem. When I have a situation, try to understand that it’s happening for a reason, not because it’s me and everything happens to me, it happens for a reason and what are you going to do about it and that’s the way I try to approach it.

Top four race?

To be fair, I don’t like to look at the table a lot because we have games in hand, we’re going to play different fixtures and I know the objective and it’s only one, to try and improve tomorrow on what we’ve done today and go into the next match and that’s it. I cannot control results and I cannot predict which matches we are going to win, draw or lose, it’s impossible. If I start to do that I think we’re going to lose focus in what we want to do.

Is Lacazette playing his best football for you?

I think he’s had really good moments in terms of goal-scoring records, probably better than what he’s doing right now, but for what we ask of him and for what I ask of him and the contribution that I need from him, I think he’s doing really, really well.

Do you want to keep Lacazette?

It is the case. I said to you, at the end of the season where we know where we are, we’ll sit down with those three players and between all of us, we’ll decide what we do to move forward.