Press conference

Emery and Bellerin on Vitoria, Xhaka: transcript

Unai Emery and Hector Bellerin faced the media in Portugal on Thursday ahead of our Europa League group-stage clash with Vitoria.

The pair discussed the match, Granit Xhaka and the captaincy - and you can read a full transcript below:
 
on recent negativity and a message for the fans...
HB - Well first of all, good evening everyone. It's been a tough couple of weeks in terms of the results but I always say that the good thing with football and at a club like Arsenal is that you have the chance to redeem yourself every two or three days. So we've been analysing and working hard in these couple of days that we've had and tomorrow we're looking to get back to winning ways and to get a positive atmosphere back into the dressing room. That's the message. We keep working, we keep trying hard to do our best and in this competition, we want to go far in it and it's important that we keep our heads straight.
 
on what he thinks of Vitoria after the first game…
UE - Good evening. It’s not an easy game, no. We played the first match against them and they showed us their capacity. Also, Portuguese teams are very organised, they have good players and every coach from Portugal I know is a very good coach. We are thinking, after the first result [in London] that was 3-2, that we know here it will be more difficult [as they will be at home].
 
on leaving Granit Xhaka out of the squad...
UE - Again, we can do one step more with him. He's not here today but also I think we need to take time with him, first to protect him and also to be calm and training with us every day. But I was speaking with him this morning and also I decided he's not one of the captains in our group and I decided that and I told him this morning.
 
on what Granit’s response was…
UE - He accepted my decision and also I told the captain and other captain my decision, we need to carry on and to focus on tomorrow’s match and Saturday’s match. I needed to take one decision, and now it is closed.
 
on how the Xhaka incident affected the dressing room and their reaction...
HB - Well, as I commented after the night of the game, I think sometimes it's hard to deal with your feelings. He knows he made a mistake but as a dressing room we all have to be together. These things happen and that's it, we all back him. He's playing his part now and we respect the players. We respect the decision of the coach and the club. For us, it's just to give him our love and care and for us, he is one of us, so we're just helping him get through it as well.
 
on if he was surprised by the Vitoria team’s quality…
HB - No, I wasn’t surprised at all because even though they lost the first two games in the group stage, we knew they were very tight games, and that [the opposition] had to score goals at the end or that they scored through set pieces. We knew they were a team with a lot of quality and very physical players, with quick and creative players at the top. We analysed the last few games they played, and knew it wouldn’t be easy. It was harder than some people expected, but we knew it and not every game will be easy. It was a hard game, and Pepe won it at the end with the free kick. Obviously we play away from home, they will have the home crowd, so we expect it to be harder but we are ready.
 
on why he decided to take the captaincy away...
UE - I think it's closed, that issue.
 
on whether there will be another vote on the captaincy…
UE - We have now Aubameyang, Hector, Lacazette and Ozil - they are the four captains, and first is now Aubameyang.
 
on Granit's comments on the abuse he has received and whether he has a future here...
UE - The future is Arsenal's club future, with the players that are here now and the coaches that are here. We have a match tomorrow, a very important match for us in the Europa League and then on Saturday in that way we need to take some decisions about some circumstances that are happening. I say to you what it is about Xhaka and now is for the match tomorrow and only that is my focus. Our focus is for tomorrow and then I think we need time because he is one of our players and we want to protect and respect him and also continue in our way. At the moment he's not in the group and my decision is as I said to you. Tomorrow's match is now the focus and the most important. I think we have a lot of work to do for to improve and for us to take confidence. We were speaking also - the team - this morning about our moment and also speaking about our match tomorrow, our match on Saturday and really expecting to play and looking forward to see the team again tomorrow and to see how we can respond against Vitoria Guimaraes away. And also because this competition for us is very important and if we win tomorrow we are going to be the first in the table. That's our target in this round, in the group and then to do something important in this competition.
 
on speaking to Xhaka about the issues he faced himself in the past…
HB - That was the situation with me, and as you can imagine it was really hard for me and it was the first time it happened to me and it was hard to deal with. I said to Granit that this is like in every walk of life, sometimes you are at the top, and the other time you are at a low. These are things you have to deal with. When these things happen to you, you have a whole squad to back you, and support you. That is what happened to me, all the players told me not to worry, to get my head down, train and do better, and people forget and forgive. It will be the same situation with him. I spoke to him when it happened and time heals.
 
on if this is a permanent or temporary decision on Granit and if Granit has asked to leave...
UE - I think we are speaking a lot about that and it's clear, there's not more words about that. The decision I have taken, and also I told him and I told the other captains and now we are continuing.Then the time is giving us the next matches, the next weeks and the next months, how we can continue with every player and with him also. But now our focus is on tomorrow, he is not here. We have other players and for me also it's very important that I respect a lot the competition and Vitoria Guimaraes and also we have on Saturday another important match. Our focus is only those two matches and I want to say to you also my decision. I told them. First Xhaka and then the captains and it's finished. For me, it's finished, that moment and that issue and his future with us is coming for the next weeks or the next months and now we need to be focused for tomorrow.