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    Vote for your Man of the Match v Brentford

    There were no shortage of talking points following our comprehensive beating of Brentford on Sunday.

    After the game Mikel Arteta spoke to the media about the victory, Granit Xhaka’s performance wearing the armband, and Fabio Vieira marking his first Premier League start with a stunning goal.

    The boss also revealed his thinking behind making Ethan Nwaneri our youngest ever player – aged 15 – as well Gabriel Martinelli’s continued development, and his plans for the international break.

    Here’s a full transcript of what he told the assembled media…

    On whether it was a ‘nice kickabout with the boys’…

    I’m really pleased with the way we played, the performance, how we controlled certain areas of the game that are very mandatory if you want to dominate a game against Brentford. I’m really pleased to minimise the opportunities for them.

    On why Granit Xhaka’s has improved…

    His consistency, and how he goes about every day. What he’s learnt in different moments of his career, whether here or with the national team. Also his willingness always to stay humble, to look forward and try to get better and when you do that, normally good things happen.

    On him leading today

    Absolutely, and he was demanding it as well. I think he feels now that love and respect both ways. You see our supporters, the way they were singing to him as well, emotionally that makes him try to give even more. I’m really pleased for him because in my opinion he really deserves it.

    On whether Vieira can have a starting place…

    I think he’s having a good progression. Obviously he missed the whole of pre-season due to injury, that was really unlucky. But we know his talent, the reasons why we signed him and what he can bring to the team. To do it against Brentford, at this ground, on his debut, is a different story. He showed again his character and his qualities.

    On his best role…

    That’s something that still needs to be decided. In those two attacking midfield positions, for sure. He’s played off the side as well, so it’s more about the relations he has in the unit and on his side, and where he is more comfortable. But the position he played today fits him really well.

    On him taking risks…

    He is like this, he’s a creative player. He needs to play with his gut feeling and his instinct. That’s what he needs to do and we need to create as many scenarios for him as possible to put his talent to the service of the team. What I like as well is the way he competes, and the way he went about the ugly part of the game really impressed me.

    On Ethan Nwaneri becoming our youngest player…

    It was a pure gut feeling. I met the boy, I really liked what I saw. Obviously Per and the academy staff gave me really good information about him as well. I met him, he’s trained a couple of times with us as well. Yesterday he had to come because we had the injuries, especially to Martin, and then I had that feeling from yesterday that if the opportunity could come, that I was going to do it, and I just done it.

    On whether it’s a reward for him…

    It’s another step, another experience. In your career all the steps are not going to be forward. After that, maybe he needs three backwards to go another one forward, but as well I think it sends a really strong message about who we are a as a club. 

    On Martinelli’s performance…

    In a year, if you look at the game that he played here a year ago and today, it’s just incredible how fast they grow, they mature, they recognise situations, execution level, the understanding and even physically he looks a different player. I thought he was really good again today.

    On comparing today to last season’s defeat here…

    It’s true that we replaced players with different players as well, we have to be honest with that and what a lot of people described as a bad day, as an embarrassing day, I looked at it as a character-building day and if you want to become a different team, you have to learn from those moments, to go through those moments and then days like today happen. Everybody is really happy in that dressing room, it feels with the way we play that we are enjoying our football and it’s another step.

    On if we’re in the title race…

    You can ask me every day. Today we are top of the league, I am so happy, yesterday I was annoyed because we lost it and we used that today as we want to get back there and show that we want to be there and that’s what we’re going to do. Push to be the best that we can be and that’s the aim and then the table won’t lie after 38 games.

    On what he said to Ethan Nwaneri before the game…

    These days it’s better not to tell them anything! Just throw him in there and see what happens.

    On when Ethan knew he would be in the squad…

    I told him yesterday that he was going to be with us and that I want him to experience, to be in the hotel, to see the preparations for the game, to be around the boys and that he had to be ready. If you’re on that bench, you have to be ready.

    On if he spoke to Ethan when he was about to come on…

    Yeah, I said congratulations and enjoy it.

    On Ethan’s appearance making Premier League history…

    All the decisions that we take, that I take it’s for the club. It’s not for me, it’s not for the player. It’s because we believe that he has a talent that has to be developed in the next two or three years and we will see how we manage that. The boy will dictate that, normally it’s not us, normally the players tell you and demand you of how far they can go.

    On coming back here after our defeat last season…

    Well obviously it made me feel much better because I saw a team that played the way we want to play, the way we train every single day. That shows a lot of character and quality to do what they’ve done on that pitch against a really good Brentford side that you see every week and how much they make teams suffer.

    On our plans for the international break…

    Personal plans? The Maldives! No, I don’t know, I haven’t planned yet. I want to spend some time with my kids and my family. Whether that will be in London or away and look after the boys that are here because we have quite a few. We need to look after them as well because some of them are injured and start to prepare because we have a beautiful game coming up very soon.

    On the feeling he got when he first met Ethan…

    I don’t know what it is. When I met him, when I look at him, I have a feeling.

    On the message that Ethan’s appearance sends as a club…

    That we want to give opportunities when there is talent, when there is personality and when there are players that love what they do so much and they have no fear. The doors are open to explore where they can go.

    This content was originally published here.

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