Arsenal

Every word Mikel Arteta said on Claudio Ranieri’s comments, Thomas Partey’s injury and Watford win

What did you make of the situation with Ranieri?

I have to defend my players, my team and my club. I would say we are the most honest of all of them. At some stages we can even become naive, but if he feels that way towards us our club and our team I have to apologise if that’s the case. But for sure there was no intention to take any advantage.

What is it a misunderstanding?

I don’t know, but I’m focused on the performance. I want to talk about what we did and we deserved completely to win the game.

What did you say to yourself during those difficult times earlier in the season?

I told you, I think it was about what I could see around me. The belief, the sense of belonging they have to be part of our team. The unity they showed in difficult moments, not to try to point at anybody. To show responsibility, leadership and courage to overcome the situation. To face the criticism because it is part of football and move forward, slowly try to engage some people and be lucky. Because we had some supporters that showed in difficult moments, that they love this club so much and they realised how important it is to play the game with them and when that happened you can see the atmosphere inside the stadium.

Will Auba stay on penalties?

He will stay on penalties if he’s happy to do so. It’s part of your career and job to miss penalties and we will try to help him.

Maitland-Niles played well today. What have you seen in him compared to last year?

I’ve seen a different player in terms of his urgency, his commitment. We made a decision that was clear with what I was seeing, because he was going to be useful. He has a huge talent and he is versatile to play in almost any position on the pitch. Today we made use of him to do what he had to do in the game which was really important.

You talk about clarity and purpose. What do you actually mean by that?

When I see him in training sessions, how he prepares, the questions he’s asking and the level of attention. He responds immediately. He’s a really clever, intelligent boy. He needs to transmit that and how much he cares with his body language. He’s done that and he’s come a long way.

You must be on a high compared to a month ago?

Absolutely. It’s much, much better and it’s always great for any manager or team to win before the international break. We’re now going to lose 70 percent of the squad. They’re going to go to the national teams. Hopefully when they are back, they maintain that and keep going on a run.

The team has confidence to go to the 90 minutes

I think it was really important to be clear that we would have moments of frustration. We expected a certain gameplan from them. We kept going and never lost sight of that. In my opinion it is why we won the game.

Tierney is still the first choice left back?

Well, Nuno is playing because he deserves to play. He’s been exceptional in all the performances where he has been given the opportunity. But I cannot say anything different with Kieran, Kieran has been superb for us. Kieran has been injured, he came back two days ago to do his first full training session. This is what we need – two top players that are raising the level in their position – and I’m happy with that.