One of the big talking points after Thursday’s defeat to Rennes was why Unai Emery chose to play Henrikh Mkhitaryan at right back in the second half.
Our Armenian playmaker had started the game in his usual advanced role but was moved into a more defensive role following Sokratis’ red card.
Emery had Ainsley Maitland-Niles as an option from the bench, but opted to continue with Mkhitaryan for the remainder of the game. Our head coach explained his decision in his post-match press conference:
on why Mkhitaryan played at right back…
Well, first and mostly, because we were coming after the last match in Southampton with a very big performance like this full back. And after this red card, first I wanted to keep the positioning with the players because in the second half we needed fresh players to help more in offensive moments, to take chances, to take options. We really didn't create a lot of chances to score the second goal, but I think Micki worked very well and with a good performance. I think there is no problem with Micki, and for example, his 40 or 50 minutes playing like a right-back, he played well.
on why he didn't use Maitland-Niles…
Because we only had three changes and we needed to decide what were these changes. Micki, I think, is playing well. If he was not playing well then maybe we could think to do this change.