Are there any injury updates ahead of Monday and have you had any updates on Granit Xhaka in the past few days?
Not any bad news. At the moment everybody seems to be ok. Granit is progressing really well, but we know it is a long-term injury unfortunately and he’s not going to be available.
Arsenal seemed to turn a corner after the last international break. Do you feel you can pick up where you left off?
It’s what it is. We managed to turn things around a little bit. There’s still big margins for improvement. But we got very big results that were needed in that moment. We just need to think about doing things better, progressing in the table and focusing on winning our next match.
The defence has improved but going forward you’ve just scored five goals in the Premier League. Has attacking threat been the main area of focus as you prepare for Palace?
Well, there have been many areas. That’s one of them obviously. The amount of players that we have here to work because of the amount of internationals that we have is very limited. But it’s something that certainly we can do better. We can improve our efficiency in front of goal. When we get that balance right it will help us to win more games.
Patrick Vieira will be making his return to Arsenal on Monday. Speaking as a former Arsenal captain yourself, how much do you admire him as a player?
He’s an Arsenal legend and I hope he gets the reception he deserves for what he did for the football club, not only as a player but as well what he transmitted as a person. He was the captain of the football club in the most successful era probably in the last many years. It’s great to have him back.
How impressed have you been with how he’s adapted to being a Premier League manager?
Well, he has already a couple of experiences and he knows the league really well. You can see the touch he’s trying to put in the team and the things that he’s trying to implement there.
Do you feel with the way he sets Crystal Palace up that you might be able to create more on Monday?
I don’t know how they’re going to set up. They’ve done it in different ways, using different players in most of the time similar formations. Let’s see how the game develops.
Congratulations on being awarded manager of the month. Do you welcome that kind of personal accolade?
Yeah, it’s not personal, because it’s all the people that are behind that help to achieve those trophies. It’s nice. As a manager you just focus on the next thing which is win more football matches. Hopefully there’s more to come because that means we’re doing the right things.
It’s funny how things can change in football. One minute you’re getting slaughtered and the next you’re winning manager of the month?
It is the opportunity that this game gives you. That’s always the case. You have to stand up and keep believing. Work hard to analyse things, keep changing them and improve them. Football gives you always another opportunity to do that.
Do you think Patrick Vieira will get a good welcome from the Arsenal fans on Monday?
I have no doubt that that will be the case. To have him back and to welcome him and having his figure and what he’s been at the club recognised in the right manner, I think it’s really important and I’m sure that that will be the case.
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Granit has been on his social media posting pictures looking positive. Could it be less than the three months people were expecting?
With Granit, I don’t know, but I’m sure that if you tell him three, he will be thinking two. He will be trying to cut edges and to do extra work to try to minimise that time, that’s for sure. We have to do it in the right way because it’s a significant injury and we want to have him back properly when he can.
Thomas Partey had a good international break but has had his injury problems. Will he have time to recover before Monday?
Well, let’s see. We haven’t had the players here yet. Some of them because they’re still travelling and they’ve not been assessed by the medical staff, but hopefully. He finished both games really well, he played well and scored a couple of goals like many other players did in this international break, and hopefully, everybody is in the right condition on Monday to help us win the game.
Were you surprised Crystal Palace picked Vieira as manager given that he hasn’t experienced a top job?
Well, he had experiences before. Obviously, Patrick knows the league much better probably than any other manager because he has experienced it himself as a player. It’s great that he’s had the opportunity to do that.
Thierry Henry has said that he’s not sure the team is going in the right direction. Have you heard those comments?
No, I haven’t. I just hear them from you.
It doesn’t help though when big name players make comments like that does it?
It’s just another opinion, so I have to respect that.
Was it a bad time for the international break to come given the run you were on?
When you’re in good momentum, you want to carry on playing as quickly as possible. When the confidence is there, and the momentum is there, you want to continue, but again, we knew that we had to stop after that game, that we had to get as many points as possible. We did well enough to do that and be in a different position than a month ago, and now we have to just improve it.
Is there a bit of football romance in a way that 25 years ago Arsene Wenger was in charge of Arsenal for the first time and here on Monday you’ve got two of his former captains going head-to-head as managers?
I don’t know. When you are still in this industry, that ball is rolling and roles change. In the next 10 years, something else could happen with another former player or another manager that has a different role in another team. It’s part of what it is.
What were your thoughts on the Invincibles?
They were a joy to watch. I think that team had everything and they dominated every aspect of the game in the right way. They had incredible leaders to start with, with some of the names they had, they had a presence, the right identity and the talent, the quality and then the self-confidence to believe that they were the best, and they showed it.
As a former central midfielder yourself, would you like to have played against Vieira in his peak?
No! Because again he was very dominant, he was physically really gifted, technically he had the right temper. He was brave, he could score goals, he had a bit of everything. He was a remarkable player.
Could Lacazette leave in January?
No. We are focusing on getting the best out of Laca and he shows every day his commitment is here. We just want to give him the right minutes so that he can show his quality and he can help the team to do better.
Jack Wilshere was at the Newport match in the week. Is there a plan for him at the moment?
He is around the players and we are trying to help him to get fit. He is training sometimes with us and the academy, he’s around the place. It’s been great to have him around. That will continue to be the case.
Is it fair to say Arsenal have been searching for another Vieira pretty much since he left. Is that fair?
I don’t know. That was a long time ago so I don’t know what the research has been. There have been some really good midfielders and Patrick was Patrick. There’s not going to be another one like him.
Apart from when you captained the team there hasn’t really been a big personality player who can lead the team back to its former glories, has there?
Yes, but you can have them in different positions and with different qualities. It’s a different era as well and the way that players were raised and educated is different to now as well. We cannot try to copy that and obviously it would be great to have someone like Patrick or Tony in the team. But we have different qualities and different characteristics and we have to develop them.
When Aaron Ramsdale joined there were a lot fans who weren’t happy. It’s looking like the right decision now though.
I don’t know. We tried to make a decision as a club to sign and bring in the right profile that we believe he had all the qualities needed to succeed at the club. It’s still very early to make a judgement of how good he is. But the way that he’s settled and what he can transmit on and off the pitch, I think is really important. He has engaged and he has adapted really well to the club. I think he’s getting a very good connection as well to our supporters and he’s performing well, which is the most important thing.
Do you think if he carries on like this he could challenge Jordan Pickford to be the number one for England?
He needs to keep performing like what he’s done and always try to think, ‘OK what am I doing right’ then continue to do those things, be humble and think about as well the things he can improve. Then, everything will come naturally. It has already happened very early on with him, to be a goalkeeper with his age and his career. He deserves that because of how he’s handled every step along the way. Some of them have been difficult moments and disappointments, which are important as well to evolve in your career.
Emile Smith Rowe gave you the credit for his goal against Andorra for the England under-21s, saying you’re the one that’s trying to get him to improve on that front. Is that the main thing he has to do to improve his game, adding goals?
I think the intention, the hunger and the ambition should be there. He’s capable of doing it. We want to ask players to do what they can achieve and I’m sure Emile can improve that part of his game. He’s working on it almost every day, he asks the right questions and he’s getting better because he has the right hunger.
Is it now just a case of keeping him humble and keeping his feet on the floor?
To be fair, Emile is naturally like this. If anything, sometimes you have to tell him how good he is. He needs to believe how good he is. You have to encourage him to try [things] he’s capable of doing. He’s a joy to work with. It’s still very early in his career but we’re really happy to have him in the team.
The number one topic fans want to know about is what’s going on with Gabriel Martinelli. Why’s he not getting much game time so far?
Well, because of the amount of players that we have in that position first of all. He had some games that he played. He started against Brentford and he started against Chelsea as well and he started another game. Unfortunately, he got injured last week. It’s a minor injury. We don’t know if he’s going to be available for Monday. But we have a lot of trust with Gabi and we need to find the right space to work with him in the squad.
Has he gone backwards in terms of his progression?
No, if you look at the number of games he has played. Obviously, the injuries that he has suffered have been big setbacks with him. We sometimes forget his age, what he’s done and where he is. We need to try and help him as well to maintain that balance right because you can generate frustration out of what comes from, in my opinion, a not very realistic diagnosis, and you need time to do that.
Would you like him to go on loan in January?
No, I’m very happy with him, we’re not thinking of anything like that
If Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny leave in January (for the Africa Cup of Nations), what plans are you making for your midfield in case Granit Xhaka is injured as well?
Let’s see where we are at that point, which players we have available, which players definitely have to be there and for how long, because there are some question marks there as well. We will find a solution. If they have to leave, they have to leave. We’ll have to find the right replacements for them.
What’s the situation with Matteo Guendouzi? Could he come back or is he at Marseille for the season?
For right now he’s gone for the season and I think he’s having a really good spell in Marseille. It’s part of the plan that we made with him. He continued with his development and we’ll make a decision with him at the end of the year.
Is it fair to say he’s played his last game for Arsenal?
I think you cannot say that about a player that is owned by the club.
Source by Football London