Mikel Arteta has praised the display of his Arsenal side as they kicked off their Premier League campaign with an emphatic win over Fulham, and discussed the futures of main men Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gunners’ trip to Craven Cottage never looked like ending in anything other than an opening day victory, with Lacazette’s early goal added to in the second half by Aubameyang and debutant Gabriel Magalhães.
Arteta was keen to single out a number of Arsenal’s key performers in the win as well as providing updates on the futures of some of the club’s key men.
Here are the best bits of the Spanish tactician’s post-match comments with BT Sport.
Opening Day Display
“I wanted to see my team determined to come to this difficult ground against a really good team that’s been promoted, with a lot of energy and do the things that we’ve trained and have the spirit that we’ve shown today.”
Debuts for Willian and Gabriel Magalhães
The victory at Craven Cottage saw Arteta hand debuts to former Chelsea man Willian and £27m summer signing Gabriel Magalhães.
The pair's first competitive display in a Gunners shirt won't be forgotten in a hurry, with Willian notching between two and three assists (confirmation pending) and Gabriel grabbing an unlikely goal to mark the occasion, and Arteta has been delighted with the impact they've made under difficult circumstances.
“They’ve been training really well. For Gabriel it’s been a big challenge to come to this small ground in the Premier League. I think he didn’t play for six months with everything that happened in France.”
Futures of Alexandre Lacazette and Rob Holding
Much of the summer transfer speculation surrounding Arsenal this year has revolved around Lacazette.
The Frenchman was afforded a watching brief for much of Arteta's first season at the club, with youngster Eddie Nketiah given the nod ahead of him. However, Lacazette started from the off in the win over Fulham - as well as opening his season's account - and the Arsenal boss was quick to quash any rumours surrounding his future.
“Yes, he’s in my plans. He’s a player I like a lot. He knows he has Eddie [Nketiah] on his back so he’s going to push him and whoever is in better shape is going to play, same for the rest of the team.”
Another player who had looked to be heading out of the Emirates Stadium this summer was Rob Holding. The former Bolton man has been linked with a number of loan moves away from the club, however, with the Gunners short on numbers at centre-back and Holding producing a solid display at Craven Cottage, Arteta confirmed he too would be going nowhere.
“I said to him ‘change your mind because you’re not going anywhere’, Rob is another one who stands for everybody that we want at the football club. He had a really difficult time, but he trained and pursued his dream to play for this football club and now why would I let him go?”
Perhaps the most speculated about player at Arsenal over the summer has been Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The former Borussia Dortmund man has been the subject of constant rumours with a new deal at the club yet to be agreed. However, Arteta confirmed he hopes to have an update shortly.
“I’m really positive that we’re going to get it done very soon and hopefully in the next few days we can get some news.”
Return of Mohamed Elneny
Arteta has remained adamant since his appointment as Arsenal boss that he would afford every player at the club a fresh start.
One of the major benefactors from this has been Mohamed Elneny, with the Egyptian brought in from the cold to start the club's last two games, and Arteta has been impressed with the midfielder's performances.
“Mo has been excellent since day one in training, he’s a player I know really well because we played together as well, I know what he can give us and how he needs to improve, I think today he was phenomenal.”