Arsenal v Watford

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Press conference

Emery on Aaron Ramsey's Arsenal future

Aaron Ramsey's contract situation has become a hot topic in recent days - so what has Unai Emery made of it all?

The Wales international's deal is due to expire at the end of the season, and  our head coach had his say in Friday's press conference:

on whether he considers Aaron important...
For me, every player is very important with their relation with the team. I consider each player an important space in the squad.

on whether he has told the board he would like Aaron to stay...
There are three elements, three aspects. One is the player and also the player with their family and representatives. The other is the club and the other is the squad. My focus is always on the team. My focus is preparing with the players and only thinking about the match tomorrow. Each player has individual aspects to work or to do or to speak with the club or with the team, but my aspect for the focus, only to think, is the matches and preparing for the matches and to speak with the players if they are thinking and are very concentrated on work for giving us the best performance and to help the collective performance.

Pre-Match Report

Arsenal v Watford: The Brief

West Ham, Cardiff, Newcastle, Vorskla, Everton, Brentford... and Watford?

After six wins on the spin, confidence levels among the staff, players and fans are understandably on the rise - but we face a major examination against a renewed and reinvigorated Watford side on Saturday.

Our training ground neighbours - and I do mean neighbours, with only a fence separating us - come into a fixture against us above us in the table for the first time since September 1984.

Javi Gracia, a former team-mate of Unai Emery at Real Sociedad in the mid 1990s, has got the Hornets buzzing, and their rise up the table this term underlines the danger they will pose at the Emirates.

Fronted by the muscular and in-form Troy Deeney, they will look to assert themselves on us. How we stand up to the challenge will say much about the character that Emery is instilling in the side – and another win would maintain the momentum that has been building by the week.

Read on for our comprehensive match preview, featuring team news, match stats and an expert view of our opponents.

Breakdown - Watford
Emery quote - Watford
Team News - Watford
Opposition view - Watford
AN Live - Watford

Gallery

Find out who trained before the Watford game

Aubameyang, Elneny and Holding in training ahead of the Watford game

We host our fourth home match in 10 days on Saturday, when Watford visit Emirates Stadium in the Premier League.

On Friday afternoon, the team trained for the final time ahead of the match. Our club photographer was at the session and sent back the following pictures.

Interview

‘It’s like Transformers… Torreira becomes crazy!’

Lucas Torreria is one of the calmest members of the Arsenal squad off the pitch - but once he crosses the white line, it “is like Transformers”, according to Sokratis.

The Greek defender says his Uruguayan team-mate changes completely once he steps on to the pitch as he helps sweep up in front of the backline.

“When he is off the pitch, he is so calm but when he is on the pitch, it is like ‘Transformers’, he becomes crazy!” Sokratis said.

“He works very good, he is small but he is strong enough. I like him very much because he gives everything, he tries to defend every time and when we have players who do this work in front of us, it is very important.

“[The defensive unit] is getting better and better every month. It is not just the defence but the whole team: how we work, tactically, in the offence and the defence, we are getting better.”

News

Team news: Sokratis, Maitland-Niles, Koscielny

Sokratis

Ahead of Unai Emery’s media conference on Friday, here's the latest team news update from our medical team:

Sokratis
Now available for selection following right dead leg during Everton match last Sunday.

Emile Smith Rowe
Right hip being assessed ahead of match against Watford on Saturday.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Small fracture to left fibula. Progressing well and now expected to return to full training in early October. (Initially aiming to return to training in November).

Dinos Mavropanos
Groin injury. Expected to return to full training in by the end of October.

Laurent Koscielny
Right Achilles tendon repair. Now working outside. Aiming to return to full training in November.

Press conference

'If it rained less here, it would be better!'

Unai Emery has now been at the club for four months - so how would he sum up his experience in England so far?

Our head coach faced the media ahead of our game against Watford, and this is what he told them about his early impressions:

on if he's enjoying it here so far...
Yes!

on what he is enjoying - or not enjoying...
I am enjoying it because I love my work and when I can explain my work with the players, they are responding as I want and also with every match with a good result, like the last matches, I am happy. For me, it's a very good experience at the moment. There are still many matches, many days and I hope many years for continuing to improve here with my experience and my knowledge. But now, at the moment, I think the club is giving me a lot of positive things. I am working every day with the players with a very big commitment and my demands are very great, very big and also my challenge here too. I want to share with the players and with the club also, my challenge to learn and to improve together.

on what he doesn't like about England...
I was born in the north of Spain, with the rain. Then I lived a lot in Spain, with the sun. I love the sun a lot. But also, we need the rain. Maybe if rained less, it'd be better.

Press conference

Emery - Gracia is competitive and always improving

There is only a fence that separates our London Colney training base from Watford's - while the respective head coaches are bound by history.

Unai Emery and Javi Gracia were team-mates at Real Sociedad in the 1995/96 season, so what are the former's memories of the latter?

This is what Emery told the media on Friday:

on playing with Javi Gracia...
In 1995/96, [I played with him at] Real Sociedad for one year. I knew him there, as a player and team-mate. As a coach he's very competitive. He is improving and he is growing up in football with this mentality. He's very competitive and here, I think Watford is starting the season very well because they are playing very well. Tomorrow is, for us, a big challenge to overtake him in the table and win against him. But I know before that it's a very difficult match and for them also, it's one very, very big challenge. We are excited and I think they are excited for the 90 minutes we are going to play tomorrow.

on Gracia being unknown in England previously and whether he looked at him to learn about English football...
Yes, maybe here there are not a lot of coaches knowing about Javi Gracia's work, but in Spain lots of respected coaches do. Every team [of his] are very organised and here I think he is improving also with their best players and with this organised idea with quality players like they have. I think he is doing a very good job. For me, every coach in England - Spanish coaches, French coaches, English coaches - I learn the conditions with these coaches. I watch every match learning things in the 90 minutes with them. Like Javi Gracia, I think I can learn with him too.

on Troy Deeney's comments about this squad last season...
I think it's a big match and a rivalry match tomorrow. They want to win against us with good things tactically and good things also individually. But we know, tomorrow we need to play and we need also in the individual duels on the pitch, to win step-by-step in the 90 minutes so we can impose our ideas, our job and our moment physically on the match. They are a team with very good players, very competitive and with the duels they are a very hard team.

Interview

'Each player is doing well... but we need more'

Emery

Having won six games on the spin, Unai Emery is confident his team are making progress - but he says there is much more to come from them.

We face an in-form Watford at Emirates Stadium on Saturday hoping to maintain our upward trajectory, and this is what our head coach said ahead of the game:

on whether we're in a better position now than he expected we would be...
I work with my mentality to look forward to being better in each moment and after each match. Now, the table is also, I think, giving us the moment they are doing at the moment. Our performances are also, after the first two against Manchester City and against Chelsea, getting better. But our challenge is, tomorrow we are on the good way but also when there are a lot of matches and difficult matches, to be more prepared for the possibility to win. Like tomorrow, against Watford. I think the Premier League is the most important competition for us because it is giving us the best performance in 38 matches and I think the regularity is giving us our best performance.

on if he feels confidence is building in the squad...
Each match gives us the opportunity to take more confidence. We are winning, I think the confidence is the best on our individual players and also on our collective work. But every match is one challenge to show and to give, to find our best moment and best performance. Each player is thinking well, but also we need more.

Press conference

Emery press conference: Every last word

Unai Emery was asked about a range of topics in Friday's press conference, from Watford, Troy Deeney and Javi Gracia through to Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey.

You can read a full transcript of our head coach's media briefing below:

on keeping the group focused after winning six games in a row…
We’re going to continue working on our ideas with our work every day and also the focus is only on the match tomorrow against Watford. Each match is very difficult and we are also looking at our game against Brentford on Wednesday for this game. Against Watford is the same, we will have the same focus, the same ideas and the same preparation so we can give the best performance. We are working in this direction.

on how he assesses September’s results…
Thinking each match like our mentality is the focus. We’ve used different players but not for different competitions because we are playing three matches in a week and we need to use them to have the best performance quality and individually also. My first idea is to be very demanding of myself and ourselves to have the best preparation individually, and if they are playing well we will continue to give them chances, but keep thinking about our performance. We need to think to win each match.

on four months here and if he is enjoying it...
Yes!

on what he is enjoying - or not enjoying...
Okay, I am enjoying it because I love my work and when I can explain my work with the players, they are responding as I want and also with every match with a good result, like the last matches, I am happy. For me, it's a very good experience at the moment. There are still many matches, many days and I hope many years for continuing to improve here with my experience and my knowledge. But now, at the moment, I think the club is giving me a lot of positive things. I am working every day with the players with a very big commitment and my demands are very great, very big and also my challenge here too. I want to share with the players and with the club also, my challenge to learn and to improve together.

on what he doesn't like about England...
I was born in the north of Spain, with the rain. Then I lived a lot in Spain, with the sun. I love the sun a lot. But also, we need the rain. Maybe if it was raining less, it'd be better.

on playing with Javi Gracia...
In 1995/96, in Real Sociedad for one year. I knew him there, as a player and teammate with me. As a coach he's very competitive. He is improving and he is growing up in football with this mentality. He's very competitive and here, I think Watford is starting the season very well because they are playing very well. Tomorrow is, for us, a big challenge to overtake him in the table and win against him. But I know before that it's a very difficult match and for them also, it's one very, very big challenge. We are excited and I think they are excited for the 90 minutes we are going to play tomorrow.

on whether he considers Aaron important...
For me, every player is very important. With their relation with the team. I considered each player, his space, an important space in the squad.

on whether he has told his bosses he would like Aaron to stay...
There are three elements, three aspects. One is the player and also the player with their family and representatives. The other is the club and the other is the squad. My focus is always on the team. My focus is preparing with the players and only thinking about the match tomorrow. Each player has individual aspects to work or to do or to speak with the club or with the team, but my aspect for the focus, only to think, is the matches and preparing for the matches and to speak with the players if they are thinking and are very concentrated on work for giving us the best performance and to help the collective performance.

on Joachim Low being upset that Mesut didn't speak to him - and whether he did speak to him...
It's one decision that is very, very individual. I respect his decision to play or not play with the national team. But it's the same, like when I speak to the individual players. I want only their focus for our match and for the match tomorrow. I think we need the energy, the performance, the concentration to only be thinking about our matches. Tomorrow is our focus and I speak every day with the players and I spoke with every player - also with Mesut - to the focus and the concentration to prepare for the best performance tomorrow.

on whether Arsenal are in a better position now than he expected we would be...
I think and I work with my mentality to look forward to be better in each moment and after each match. Now, the table is also, I think, giving us the moment they are doing at the moment, each teams. Our performance also, after the first two against Manchester City and against Chelsea, is getting better. But we need also, our challenge is, tomorrow we are on the good way but also when they are coming a lot of matches and difficult matches, to be more prepared for the possibility to win against the first teams like Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham, but also for very difficult games like tomorrow, against Watford. I think the Premier League is the most important competition for us because it is giving us the best performance in 38 matches and I think the regularity is giving us our best performance.

on Troy Deeney's comments about this squad last season - and if he's changed it...
I think it's a big match and a rivalry match tomorrow. They want to win against us with good things tactically and good things also individually. But we know, tomorrow we need to play and we need also in the individual duels on the pitch, to win for step-by-step in the 90 minutes so we can impose our ideas, our job and our moment physically on the match. They are a team with very good players, very competitive and with the duels they are a very hard team.

on if he feels confidence is building in the squad...
Each match gives us the opportunity to take more confidence. We are winning, I think the confidence is the best on our individual players and also on our collective work. But every match is one challenge to show and to give, to find our best moment and best performance. I think each player is thinking well, but also we need more.

on Javi Gracia being fairly unknown in England previously and whether he looked at him to learn about English football...
Yes, maybe here there are not a lot of coaches knowing about Javi Gracia's work, but in Spain he’s a respected coach. I know him and he’s a very competitive coach. Every team he has, they are very organised and here I think he is improving also with their best players and with this organised idea with quality players like they have. I think he is doing a very good job. For me, every coach in England - Spanish coaches, French coaches, English coaches - I learn the conditions with these coaches. I watch every match learning things in the 90 minutes with them. Like Javi Gracia, I think I can learn with him too.