Arsenal travel to face West Ham in the Carabao Cup round of 16, in a game that is sure to be a real challenge for both sides.

The Hammers had been enjoying a strong start to the season, but David Moyes' side are now without a win in their last four games across all competitions - including a disappointing 1-0 home defeat against Everton last time out. 

The Gunners have enjoyed a far different time of late, having maintained their unbeaten start to the Premier League season, and losing just once in all competitions.

Ahead of the game, which could represent a significant step towards silverware for both sides, Mikel Arteta spoke to the press about numerous injuries and general points.

  • Team News

Arsenal have several injury and fatigue concerns going into this game, and Arteta was asked about them today.

Gabriel Jesus

The Spaniard was notably cautious when quizzed on the fitness of star forward Gabriel Jesus, giving no indication of any possible return being in sight:

"With him (Jesus), honestly I’m not going to put any because I did it once and got it totally wrong. We need to be cautious. He’s already pushing everybody. He wants to be back as quick as possible.”

Thomas Partey

Speaking on Thomas Partey, Arteta seemed a little less optimistic - and told reporters how the impact of the 30-year-old will be greatly missed during his enforced absence:

"I think he will be out for weeks. I don’t know how long. He has another appointment today. We will see after that. It’s a big concern because when Thomas is fit and available we see the results and impact he has on the team.”

The boss went on to sympathise with the Ghanian, in reference to his poor injury record in recent years, and once again reemphasised the midfielder's importance to the team:

"It (injuries) can happen in football and I’m so sorry for him because I think he is doing every single thing he can do right to be there. He was gutted and we are for him, but he needs to lift himself up again with our support and go again because he’s a player that is critical for us."

Martin Ødegaard

After being rested against Sheffield United at the weekend, after Arteta revealed that the Norwegian had been suffering from a "little niggle". The boss gave a positive update on his possible involvement tomorrow, though:

"We rested him the other day, so it’s how long we rest him for and how we manage him now with the minutes and the rhythm that he needs as well to be at his best [...] We had the opportunity to do it and we didn’t use him at the end, that was a good upload for him."

He was also asked if resting his captain was the only way to nurse his current 'niggle', to which he issued a response seemingly showing that he feels very relaxed about the matter:

"It’s not only that (resting him), but there’s also a lot of things that you have to do. It’s impossible to play with no niggles in football, and at this level, when you have games every three days, it’s impossible. If you try to do that, you better stay in bed, because I don’t know any players who are constantly perfect and to be in the best possible condition, so you have to adapt to that."

As has become a common theme amongst the current Arsenal squad, the 24-year-old has been keen to play through his current issue to help his team. Arteta was quick to praise his mentality, and that of the whole squad:

"Every player is the same [...] they are willing to push the boundaries. We have players who have been six weeks out and they were back in either three-and-a-half or four weeks for big matches and made an incredible impact.

When you talk about changes in the mentality, this is a big thing. Not only him, but all the physios and doctors, and everybody pushing you in the same direction. Your team-mates pushing you to demand you to be there, because you are needed, and that’s what we need."

Declan Rice

Declan Rice will be returning to the London Stadium for the first time since joining the Gunners in a then British transfer record £105m from West Ham. The  boss confirmed that he is set to play against his former side:

"He’s likely (to feature). He’s fit and can be involved. It will be his first time back at his old club and a beautiful moment I think for him."

Arteta also spoke on how he hoped that Rice would be given a warm reception by the Hammers fans:

"I hope so. Especially, every time you hear him talk about West Ham and what they did for him and everybody at the club, he cannot talk any higher, so hopefully they will be the same way towards him."

Eddie Nketiah

The last question on player availability centred around last weekend's hat-trick hero Eddie Nketiah. With the absence of Jesus, some have suggested managing the Englishman's minute to avoid a crisis in attack, but Arteta somewhat played down these fears, leaving the door open to him starting:

"We have to be conscious with the amount of minutes that they play. He has started a lot of games in the Premier League but I think in terms of how we utilise him.

I think he’s fresh and in a really good moment. Players like Eddie have to be used, whether we do it as a starter or on the bench. We will see."

  • Rotation and tactics

While some teams may use the Carabao Cup as an opportunity to rest important players and give a chance to fringe players, Arteta made it clear that it is business as usual for him, and that he is focussed solely on winning this game:

"We just have to beat West Ham. It’s a competition that we have the chance to progress and win a trophy and our mindset is going to be focused just on West Ham."

The Spaniard also suggested that he will try to employ a similar tactical configuration to the win against Brentford in the previous round of the competition:

"Yes and the context is a bit different because we’ve got some injuries.

We don’t have too much availability in terms of the squad but I prepare the game in the same way we did there to try to win it."

  • Importance of the competition and a platform to build on

The boss spoke passionately about his feelings on the competition, and reiterated its importance:

"I live it exactly the same as a Premier League game. I have the same feeling in my tummy, the same uncertainty and the same way to prepare and I’m going to be there closer to the game. I just want to win the game, for sure."

He also told of how he sees potential for this competition to be a stepping stone towards bigger honours:

"Even if you are doing rotation, the role of the players that are committed to challenging for this trophy or this game, I think it’s critical for them to show what they can do when they are really important and given the chance.

When they are in or out, how are you going to approach the game and are you going to win the game for the team? I think if you want to grow as a team and you don’t have that mindset.

When you have a big game next week, or we just played in the Champions League or another big game here, it’s: ‘OK, what is the behaviour of the team and how they respond to that.’ I think it’s very important."

  • Experience vs youth

Arteta was also asked a series of questions about the dynamic of his midfield, and whether having older players is important for success:

"It is (important). I think age is something, but after the experiences that those boys had, and the human qualities of those are exceptional.

So, you just mentioned Mo (Elneny); the way he lifted us for those six or seven minutes on the pitch, after 10 months out, the way everybody looks at him is just fundamental for me.

I always said that he’s one of the most important players because of what he brings to the team, even when he’s not playing every week."

The boss continued to speak about the importance of his senior players:

"I think it’s something critical for our squad, and as well that the squad is designed, and the profiles that we have, that they have always played as role models, off the field, but very important as well that those players can be respected for what they do on the pitch. We have a few of them that are really good."

On the topic of youth versus experience in midfield, Arteta was asked about the future of Charlie Patino, who has been making positive progress on loan at Swansea - and whether the young midfielder has a future with the Gunners:

"There is always a pathway to get back and when we make decisions on those players it is always to keep an eye on them and see if we can evolve the squad in a way, and the first thing that we do is look internally."

  • The Ballon d'Or

After Lionel Messi was awarded a record-breaking 8th Ballon d'Or, Arteta reflected on the greatness of the Argentine:

"When you talk about Messi, it can never be wrong. What he’s done; he’s won the World Cup, at his age, it was the pinnacle of his career. Everybody was expecting it, it’s just incredible.

The consistency that he has shown, the level that he has put world football into, it’s incredible."

He also spoke of his pride at Arsenal's inclusions in the Ballon d'Or rankings:

"I’m so glad as well that we had a few nominated in those lists [...] (It gives us) Pride. It’s always good to see yourself there next to those names and in those lists, so it’s a compliment for them for what they’ve done.

Now the challenge is to be higher up the list next season because that would mean that you’ve done it again."

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