Press conference

Emery and Ainsley's press conference: transcript

Unai Emery and Ainsley Maitland-Niles answered a wide range of questions on Wednesday as they faced the media ahead of our game against Qarabag.

Some of the topics under discussion were Laurent Koscielny's return, Mesut Ozil, racism in football and more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on how will approach the game in terms of squad rotation…
UE: Good afternoon. Our first aim in this competition, we have done, which was to be first in the group. But we respect this competition and we respect Qarabag and tomorrow our objective is to win and we are going to give players chances tomorrow to take responsibility, take rhythm and take confidence. Also, because we are going to play a lot of matches, in the next 10 days we play four matches - each of them very important - so in the Europa League our first objective we did it, so tomorrow we are going to use some different players with also players coming from the under-23 team and also it is in our planning to start with Laurent Koscielny.

Ainsley on the strength of the academy with 12/20 in the match day squad v Vorskla…
It means a lot about the academy system we have here, showing that there’s a lot of good young talent who can do it. Having this good manager beside us is helping us more, he speaks to the players and tell us what we can improve on and they just feel more confident that he is giving them the chance, so it is brilliant.

on Koscielny and whether he could play v Southampton…
UE: We have some players with injuries at centre back and also with these injuries are Mavropanos and Rob Holding and a few out [suspended] with yellow cards. We are going to decide after tomorrow’s match, as its the first match with us that Laurent Koscielny will play. We are going to look also if he can play 90 minutes or less minutes in this game. We can use another player in this position, someone like Nacho Monreal, who is also with us and in his career he played in this position [before]. We are going to decide but the first is to think about the match tomorrow because we need to receive information on how he can feel tomorrow.

on Mesut Ozil…
UE: I don’t know. Tomorrow he is in the group, there are 18 players in the squad for this match and I am going to decide if he plays tomorrow from the beginning or during the match in the 90 minutes.

on what he tells players about facing abuse from the stands…
UE: It is not acceptable, but I think it is a small moment in the contest. The people should show respect to every people and I think it’s something that happens in one moment, but these comments are not acceptable.

on the players’ lifestyles and whether he has spoken to them…
UE: The club said to you that the discussions are inside here between us, but for me the most important thing is to not lose the focus. Our focus first was on Huddersfield in our last match, the match tomorrow and on Sunday. I trust in my players and I trust that their behaviour is good behaviour and the most important thing is how I see them every day training with big behaviour and big commitment with focus on our work.

AMN on proving himself…
I still feel like I am improving and getting back to my best. Me and the manager have had a conversation and he’s told me things that he wants me to improve on, so all I can do is go away every day and wake up and think how can I get better at this? By a certain amount of time the manager should be able to see it in me.

AMN on what he wants to improve…
It’s more of a personal thing between Unai and me honestly, but I think as long as I know it and he knows it and we both agree it, that’s all that matters.

AMN on what is different this season…
There’s a few different things. Of course the manager conducts himself in a way to the ex-manager and some of the signings that he’s brought in are different as well, so there are a lot of experienced players in the camp now that are helping out with the young side of the squad. I think it’s a great combination that we have in the side at the moment.

AMN on his personal experiences of racism are...
Yes, I have [experienced it]. Not at a professional level but growing up in the youth ranks. I think it's disgusting, honestly. I really do credit Raheem for coming out and standing up for himself and other players and speaking about it. But, I just think that if a lot of football clubs and some of the players too can join forces to really put our heads to it and try to kick it out, it would be the best thing possible.

AMN on whether he can say what happened to him at youth level...
It was pretty much similar to what Raheem got to be honest. I literally went out to pick up the ball for a throw-in and there was a bit of racial abuse behind me. What can I do? I just got on with the game, as he did. It hurts. It hurts me to talk about it. It hurts to think about it. But I think that's why it's so important that we need to get rid of it from the game. It's not just footballers who need to be on board with it. It's everyone else: the press, the media and the staff as well.

AMN on whether he reported the incident...
I did, but nothing was done about it. I guess I just had to move on from it and become stronger from that.

AMN on how old he was at the time...
I was about 12 years of age.

AMN on whether he was at Arsenal at the time...
Yes, I was at Arsenal at the time. It was an away trip to a German side, I think.

AMN on how much that has stayed with him or how much it affected him at the time...
At the time, I just spoke to my dad about it and he did sort of give me the heads up and showed me a few things about racism before my time, when I was playing football, just as there still is in the game now. As we've seen, from Raheem Sterling coming out to speak, so like I said before, I think we just really need to put our heads to it and get it cut out as soon as possible.

AMN on how it made him feel and how he was able to respond...
To me, responding to it is scoring a goal to put their team down. I only thought they were doing it because I was having a good game in that game. I guess that's one way of them sort of trying to knock me off my game and make me feel uncomfortable about myself. But to be honest, I just try and play my football and not really say much about anything.

AMN on if he thinks Sterling going public could be a defining moment...
I hope so. I really do hope so. Raheem is a good, brave lad for doing it and I just hope that more people put their ear towards him and have some sympathy for him, because it's not the first time it's happened and we just want it to be the last.