Mikel Arteta press conference: North London derby team news; Smith Rowe surgery; Faith in Saliba

Tom Gott
Arteta looks ahead to the derby
Arteta looks ahead to the derby / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Mikel Arteta's Arsenal will host Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday in the first north London derby of the season.

The Gunners sit top of the table but are up against a Spurs side who are yet to taste defeat this season. With three points and major bragging rights on the line, Arteta is demanding a top performance from his side.

Here's what the boss had to say in the build-up to the game.

Team news

What is the squad looking like?

"We’ve just finished the last training session. Obviously we had many players arriving yesterday, so we had a short period to prepare for the match, but the boys are looking in good condition."

Are the players feeling confident?

"The mentality doesn’t change. We have to go game by game, we need to look to get better and improve in many areas and be humble, but at the same time really ambitious. That’s the way forward for us to achieve what we want."

Are Zinchenko, Partey and Tierney in the squad?

"They are part of the team."

North London derby

Have you been impressed by Tottenham's start to the season?

"Not only the start, but the journey they have been on since Antonio joined and how things have changed and the team that he’s building. They have a very clear identity in the way they are playing and it’s been really impressive. We know that both teams expect a really tough match tomorrow."

Does last season's away game act as extra motivation?

"I just think it’s all about emotion and willingness to get to that moment and have enjoyment. It’s the nicest game of the season by a mile, for what it means to our supporters, for the history of it. And now as well, because looking at the table and where both teams want to be, it becomes a really important match. I think the word is excitement."

What makes this match so special?

"Many things. I think you have to feel attached and a belonging to the club and when you have that feeling, and then you understand the history of the derbies, how both teams were historically created, and what has happened over the years, then that makes it very special. I think it’s a very special city, it’s a really special country, very passionate fans and it’s a great atmosphere to play in."

Emile Smith Rowe

Will Smith Rowe be back from injury after the World Cup?

"Hopefully yes. We had to make a decision because we could not continue the uncertainty as to whether we have him, or have him with certain conditions. We needed to draw a line so we made that decision and he was the first one demanding that he wanted to make the decision and we supported that, and we have to prepare him to get back stronger than he was."

How long will he be out for?

"After surgery it is very difficult to give a timeline. It depends on the first process, how the bones heal, how was his first reaction, his improvement and how he’s adapting. We need to go step by step; obviously we know that before the World Cup will not be easy, and after that we have a break and we need to use him in the right way."

Was surgery always the plan?

"We put all the alternatives on the table and the thing is we have tried some others during the last few months and they haven’t really worked to the point the player wasn’t comfortable and consistently at his best to perform. We decided to take that route and that it was the best decision, and we’ll stick to it and move on."

William Saliba

Any hesitation in putting Saliba up against Harry Kane and Son Heung-min after a tricky international break?

"William has shown over the past few months what he is capable of, and that doesn’t mean that things are always going to go in the same direction but he’s been so good that from my side I have no doubts."