Press conference

Emery, Mustafi: Every word of the press conference

Unai Emery and Shkodran Mustafi faced the media on Wednesday to discuss our Europa League clash against Sporting CP at Emirates Stadium.

Read on for a full transcript from the press conference as they discussed the progress of the team, Steve Would Rob Holding and more:

UE on how he’s feeling ahead of the game…
UE: Good afternoon. [We want to] find our focus in two ways - one is in this competition, which is very important for us. It’s one way [to win] a title and get into the Champions League next year. The second focus is on our work, to continue to improve and to continue with the players, taking responsibility and confidence. Above all, I want to continue at the Emirates [together] with our supporters with the same spirit as in the same matches as against Blackpool, Leicester, Liverpool. Tomorrow is a very good test for us for those two things I have spoken about.

Emery on what he learnt about Sporting in Portugal…
UE: Firstly, respect for them. They are a team with very good players, very good history, also in this competition. They’ve changed the coach but I think for them tomorrow is a very big match and a very good test in this competition, also for fighting for first position against us. But we want tomorrow to give a big match with our personality.

Emery on if Monreal will be involved…
UE: At the moment, we are continuing with the injuries of Mavropanos who is also working with us but also not to start playing with us. Laurent Koscielny too, but he is getting better in each training with us. And then Nacho, we are with him in a very precautionary moment because we don't want to repeat the same injury. At the moment he is starting to train but not with us [for all] and for tomorrow he isn’t in the group.

Emery on Koscielny and when he can return…
UE: The most important is how he’s feeling every day. He can feel better in each training with us and for him. With calmness, he’s nearer, closer to being with us in the competitive games. At the moment, we are happy with him. He is feeling well and after [some] months without every training with the team, I think the most important thing is he is every day with us and getting better every day. We are going to think after the international break how we can continue working and how he can start playing games.

Emery on being one win away from qualifying and if that affects team selection…
UE: Of course the first [target] for us is to finish first in this group. Tomorrow is a very important match because they are second in the table and if we win, we are first in the group. That’s our clear target tomorrow.

Mustafi on partnership with Holding…
SM: It’s always important when you play in central defence that you know what your partner next to you know is doing. In football you have always to adapt. You won’t always play with the same players so for me it’s important to have someone next to me who I can play with. That’s the case with Rob, with Sokra, with Lolo and with Mavro too. I have a good relationship with everyone really, it doesn’t matter if we play together or not. In training when we do play together, I’ve felt quite comfortable with whoever I’ve played with. With Rob, we’ve had good results in the last few games, which I’m very happy with as well.

Mustafi on what Emery has added to AFC…
SM: For me personally, the biggest thing was that he’s someone who really knows what he wants from each player. He tells you exactly what he wants you to do, but gives you freedom to expose your talent. When we don’t have the ball, he tells you where to stand and how to get it back, when we have it, he gives you options you can use. You can decide which option you choose. For me it’s a good mix between freedom and discipline, and having the same plan in the whole team. I think that’s what we saw against Liverpool. That was the first game where I felt like we came out from the first minute and were everywhere until the 90th minute. I feel like there’s a good mix between discipline and freedom.

Mustafi on if Bould has more input now…
SM: Steve is always there, always giving us a hand. With his experience, when he tells you something he sees in training, you listen very carefully. With his experience, you have to listen to him. I don’t feel that he’s now trying to create something new. He looks carefully at what we do, especially when things are wrong. When things are going good, it’s easy to not look at the small mistakes but he still looks at everything and when he sees something where we can improve, he’s always there to try and give us a hand.

Mustafi on if the team is more defensively solid this season…
SM: I think that we are very good [when] attacking, and that makes the defensive work a bit easier. When you attack well, and even when we lose the ball, we press straight away to win the ball back high up the pitch. That makes it easier for us to defend because you don’t always have to go back 60 or 70 yards back to win it in your own box. We are very good at attacking but with that, we still prepare being in the right position to recover when we lose the ball as quickly as possible.

Mustafi on balance…
SM: I think the midfield players are defensively minded when they have to be. When we have the ball, the players try to create something up front. We try to work as a team, building up from the back. We play forward from the back. When we don’t have it, we press and defend from the front. When we have the ball, we are all offensive players. When we lose the ball, we are all defensive players.

Mustafi on Torreira’s start…
SM: I’m very happy for him. He played at one of my ex clubs, Sampdoria, so when he came here, it’s of course not easy, because it’s a different type of football in England. You have to give credit to him because he’s someone who works hard, who wants to work hard and who shows that on the pitch as well. Against Liverpool he recovered a lot of balls, and that makes it not only easier for the defenders, but for the whole team. As long as you have the ball, you have more opportunities to score. I think you have to give him credit. I’ve changed a lot of leagues, a lot of countries myself and I know it’s not easy to settle in. I think he’s done it brilliantly well.