Every word from Mikel's post-Wolves presser

Every word from Mikel’s post-Wolves presser

After seeing us beat Wolves 2-0 to go five points clear at the top of the table, Mikel Arteta faced the media for the last time before the World Cup break.

Martin Odegaard’s brace saw us overcome our opponents and maintain our momentum going into the 44-day gap without Premier League football, and Arteta spoke about whether that gap will affect us on the restart, as well as many other topics surrounding the Molineux encounter.

Here’s everything he had to say in his post-match press conference:

on whether having five points to spare after 14 games is significant:

It’s great to be where we are. We enjoy that moment and we have a big break. We have to reflect on what we are doing, and be very prepared for what comes after the WC. But our goal is to play better as a team every day; to have better tools to do what we want to do on that plane. I can say that it has been phenomenal to work with these players and staff.

if he’s frustrated that we’re breaking now with so much speed:

When a team is at that moment, of course you want to keep playing, but that’s not possible. We have to use the time now in the best possible way so that the players who are not participating in the World Cup, they get some time off, which they fully deserve. And the rest [will] just fulfilling a dream that every child has had, when they had a chance to represent their national team in a world cup. It doesn’t get any better than that.

if Odegaard doesn’t make it to the WC will make a big difference when the restart:

I have no idea. Obviously he’s got two caps before that so he’ll bet on the national team. After that we will try to prepare him in the best possible way. But we don’t know; when you are in the rhythm and when you are competing it is sometimes much better. So the players who are here will have to compete and have enough fitness to play properly against West Ham. We will try to prepare them that way.

on the decision to make Odegaard captain:

It is [a big decision], he is a leader in his way, with his character, he is a great person, he is a great footballer and what he does at his age is not easy. We are really happy to have him.

on Odegaard adding goals to his game this season:

That’s what you want, your attacking midfielders to win games and not just assist them but score goals. He’s changed that mentality, he practices a lot and he wants to get to his best, which we don’t know what his limit is like a lot of the other kids we have. That’s what we want, embrace the good times and support them when they’re not so good.

on Granit Xhaka who starts:

He’s fine, he wasn’t fine and that Granit would raise his hand and say: ‘I have to get away’. He was not feeling well at all. We had some lads with a bit of a stomach problem and obviously we can’t change three or four in the first half, but I’m glad we adapted to those circumstances and we managed to win the game.

on reflecting on our season so far:

I need a week or so to do it. Obviously nobody expected us to be where we are right now and the amount of games we’ve managed to win, but I’m more focused on the way we play and the way we live together, the atmosphere that we have in this dressing room and around Colney and what we have created with our supporters in our stadium and the relationship between every member of the club and that is much more powerful, and my job is to focus on playing better every game.

on whether it has exceeded his own expectations of what is possible with this team:
Yes, but I take it day by day and not even match by match. I understand that the better we do the day-to-day things and we commit to doing those things better every day, each individual will contribute to making the team better and that’s what I want as well.

if there was an illness around the team hotel:
Not overnight. I think it was after the food before the game but I didn’t even know about that. And the doctor was trying to get some place in order, because they weren’t feeling well.

if he and the team watched the Manchester City game:
Yes. We were on the bus. We all looked at it together, as we usually do with many other games.

on the team’s reaction when Toney scored against Manchester City:

As you can imagine.

if thinking about other teams can sometimes make you lose focus:

That’s how you live this league and that’s the beauty and you start doing that in the second game of the season because the competition is so big, you really look at other opponents and I think that’s something that all teams do. When I’ve been on other teams, we used to do that all the time. As a player or coach and that’s natural.

But then you have to focus on your own thing, your own performance and winning the game. This week I think it was very tricky because there were too many things around the WC and certain individuals, but the guys did what they had to do.

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