Qarabag 0-3 Arsenal

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Press conference

Every word from Emery’s press conference

Unai Emery during the Europa League match away against Qarabag

Unai Emery was in good spirits when he spoke to the media after Thursday night’s 3-0 win over Qarabag.

We extended our winning run to eight matches in all competitions, with a host of players impressing in Baku.

Here’s a full transcript of what Emery said in his press conference: 

on a comprehensive scoreline but a testing fixture…
Good evening. Yes, each match for us is not easy. Firstly, because when we are playing away, we are playing against a good team like Qarabag today. Good players also and with a very great ambition and excited to play against us. Their mobility, their quality in above all the first half, I think we suffered in the match. But I want to suffer. I want to not find easy matches, like today. Then, in our moments, to show you and show them our possibilities, our quality and our organised moments. I think in the 90 minutes today, the team worked very well.

on what he said to Emile Smith Rowe when he came off and how far can Emile go…
Well, first I think that every player needs to feel that we have the option to give them chances an an opportunity to play with us. Above all, the players with us, they are coming from the academy and today they are here. Deyan Illiev is here also, Eddie Nketiah is here also, and also is Joe Willock. We want to give them [opportunities] but also they earned their moments in the pitch because, in pre-season for example, Emile Smith Rowe worked very well with us. He knows how we want to play and he is very humble to continue improving and progressing with us and in every training and match, like today. I said to him, after he left the match, that before he had one action and with ambition, he can go inside the box and score more.

on what qualities in Emile stand out for him to make him want to pick him…
A little bit of all the qualities he has: physical, mentality and quality with his right foot. Working in combinations with other players. If I can say one condition, for me, it’s his mentality. He is humble and he is humble to listen every day in training, in the video analysis and also before the match to continue improving and to keep taking one step more, like today. The last matches he played, for example against Brentford, he had three actions in the opposition boxes and didn’t score. But today, he had two and one was a goal. I think this is one step more for him. I prefer to not speak a lot about him, because I think it’s best for him to continue to be humble and continue working in every match to keep his feet on the ground.

on how he views Qarabag…
When I saw different matches, in their domestic competition and in Europe against Sheriff and Sporting Lisbon, for us their best performance was against Sporting Lisbon with a good match. Our respect is more thinking here, for example Atletico Madrid didn’t win. They played very well in the Champions League. That’s the reason, today also, we analysed and worked with the respect against them. On the pitch we were thinking that we need also to take the best performance to win today.

on Alex Iwobi’s performance and whether he will start in the Premier League - plus updates on Aubameyang and Ramsey’s availability for Sunday’s match…
No, first I changed Monreal because we wanted to play with a back four in the second half. Also, we needed to put one midfielder more on the pitch. Secondly, Aubameyang and Aaron are in London and we will look tomorrow and Saturday to see how they are for Sunday to see if they can play. For us, each match is very important to show us and for them to take responsibility, take confidence and take rhythm. Each match is one exam for them. I am very happy with how they are responding on the pitch. Alex Iwobi is another player who is the same. When we arrive on the match at Sunday against Fulham, it’s also very important that we decide the best first eleven and the players on the bench for continuing together in this way, away at a very good and difficult team like Fulham.

Post-Match Report

Qarabag 0-3 Arsenal: How it happened

The Arsenal team celebrate Sokratis' goal against Qarabag

WHAT HAPPENED

Emile Smith Rowe, Matteo Guendouzi and Sokratis each scored their first goals for the club, as we returned from the Azerbaijan capital with an eighth consecutive win.

Unai Emery named a strong squad for this 4,000 kilometre trip, but it was three players with fewer than 20 appearances between them who scored the goals to see off a spirited Qarabag side at a hostile Olympic Stadium in Baku.

Defender Sokratis got the ball rolling early on, and second-half goals from Smith Rowe and Guendouzi sealed an excellent victory to keep us top of Europa League Group E.

The scoreline was comfortable in the end, but Arsenal had to dig deep for large periods, despite getting off to the perfect start.

From a fourth-minute Mohamed Elneny corner, Monreal rose well to head goalwards, and his effort deflected off Sokratis' leg, wrong-footing Vagner in the Qarabag goal. 

The Arsenal team celebrate Sokratis' goal at Qarabag

The Arsenal team celebrate Sokratis' goal at Qarabag

It was reward for a fast start. Arsenal monopolised possession and set about silencing the home fans in the Olympic Stadium. A thrusting run from wing back Sead Kolasinac on the left flank had created our first chance in the second minute - Elneny saw his shot charged down when the ball fell to him just inside the area.

Qarabag came back strongly after conceding, as the locals found their voice again, but Emile Smith Rowe - on his first European start - nearly doubled the lead when sliding in to meet Kolasinac's low cross. He could only find the side netting however.

Bernd Leno had been quiet in the opening exchanges, but was alert enough to make a smart save low to his left after a jinking run from Mahir Madatov.

The atmosphere was heating up inside the stadium, and although Arsenal weren't being allowed to settle in possession, they looked dangerous whenever Iwobi and Kolasinac combined on the left. The latter set up another chance for Smith Rowe in the box, but after he was crowded out, Guendouzi took over and saw his shot blocked.

We ended the half under pressure, and started the second period on the back foot too. In fact Qarabag had the ball in the net soon after the break, but it was correctly ruled out for offside.

Unai Emery had started the game with a three-man defence, but reverted to a back four for the second half, replacing Nacho Monreal with Lucas Torreira.

Qarabag were beginning to get on top, so Smith Rowe's first senior goal was particularly well-timed. Set up by fellow Hale End Academy product Alex Iwobi, he raced through on goal and neatly tucked the ball through Vagner's legs.

Emile Smith Rowe made history on Thursday night

Emile Smith Rowe made history on Thursday night

Arsenal had well and truly drawn the sting from the Azerbaijan champions, and Emery was able to bring on Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette in the second half to see the game out.

Iwobi was one of those replaced - he had another excellent game, and might just have done enough to keep his place at the weekend.

The game was well and truly killed off with another superbly-taken goal 10 minutes from time. Lacazette led a counter-attack, found Guendouzi on the edge of the area and the midfielder twisted and turned before placing his shot low into the corner.

Matteo Guendouzi's stats away at Qarabag

Matteo Guendouzi impressed at Qarabag

Danny Welbeck blazed a late chance well over the bar, but it couldn't spoil an excellent evening for the Gunners.

 

MATCH GALLERY


HOW IT HAPPENED

Click here to read play by play highlights of our fine matchday two win in Azerbaijan.

 

What we noticed from the Qarabag game

Smith Rowe stars, Nacho impresses and a new formation - read our analysis from the match

WHAT'S NEXT?

It's a quick turnaround for the Gunners who face Fulham at midday on Sunday at Craven Cottage. It's our last Premier League game for 15 days, as we aim to extend our winning run in the league into the October international break.

 

Press conference

Why was Nacho Monreal replaced against Qarabag?

Monreal

Nacho Monreal captained us in Baku on Thursday night, but was replaced at half-time against Qarabag.

So, how come the defender was withdrawn? Here’s Unai Emery with the explanation. 

on Iwobi’s performance, why Monreal was substituted and the players that stayed behind…
No, first I changed Monreal because we wanted to play with a back four in the second half. Also, we needed to put one midfielder more on the pitch. Secondly, Aubameyang and Aaron are in London and we will look tomorrow and Saturday to see how they are for Sunday to see if they can play. For us, each match is very important to show us and for them to take responsibility, take confidence and take rhythm. Each match is one exam for them. I am very happy with how they are responding on the pitch. Alex Iwobi is another player who is the same. When we arrive on the match at Sunday against Fulham, it’s also very important that we decide the best first eleven and the players on the bench for continuing together in this way, away at a very good and difficult team like Fulham.

 

Interview

‘We’re winning but we need to keep improving’

Thursday night was a special one for Sokratis - our No 5 scored his first Arsenal goal and finished the match with a clean sheet for the first time since joining us too.

Speaking after the game, the defender outlined his joy at extending our winning run to eight matches, but explained where we still need to improve defensively.

Read on for what he said.

on working hard for the win…
It was very hard and the other team played well - they lost a lot of chances! We won, we are very happy, we need to work harder and we need to improve. We know that some things aren’t going good and we have to work harder and we are in this way.

on playing three at the back…
For me it’s good because I’ve played a lot of games there in Borussia with Thomas Tuchel. I played a lot of games and I think it’s a very good system. Our manager knows well, he tries a lot of things and this is very good for the team. I think we’re on a good road.

on scoring his first goal for the club…
It was lucky thanks to Nacho, but I’ve opened my account!

on whether he’s happier to keep a clean sheet…
Of course, this is the most important thing. I’m very happy today, also for the last games where we defended well, but still we need to improve and the other team wasted a lot of chances. We have been lucky in the moment and we know we’ve been lucky, but we have to work harder and I think it’s getting better.