Press conference

Every word: Unai Emery’s press conference

Unai Emery was a happy man after Sunday’s Premier League win over Southampton.

It’s the first time since December that we’ve kept back-to-back clean sheets, and the three points also saw us return to the top four with 11 games still to play this season.

Emery was asked about our performance, our full backs and our fight for Champions League football following the match. This is what he had to say:

on the win…
Good afternoon, we spoke that we struggled when we played against them and at the time it was a difficult moment because we played with Xhaka at centre back and we had our first injuries with Hector Bellerin and we lost 3-2. It was an important match and we spoke yesterday with respect for Southampton but also thinking that we need a supportive mentality for the match today. I think the players were thinking for us and our three points here with our supporters and here in our stadium. Maybe the motivation was also that situation that we lost.

on our full backs conceding chances to Southampton…
Yes, they have players in attacking moments who are very fast like Redmond. In the first action they get at our space in defensive and created some good chances, but you need your goalkeeper for good saves sometimes and I think today Leno played very well and helped us a lot. After we can play with different systems and different players, it depends. Sometimes you want to attack a lot with our left and right back, but maybe it’s better to play with three centre backs to protect his backline, like sometimes with Kolasinac. It depends on if they’re playing with one attacking player or two and the situation tactically in each match. After today I think Licht played his best first half in the season - and Kolasinac also was keeping his consistency up. He played well today and played well offensively and defensively.

on being back in the top four…
For us it’s positive, but it’s not changing our idea or our way. (We are taking things) game by game and Wednesday we want another three important points against Bournemouth. I think we can use these moments and different players to get good paces and fresh players with energy and quality. We need the mix to reserve some players for some matches, because we are going to play a lot of matches. We started Thursday, then today, Wednesday and after Saturday, so it’s important to play with a big performance like today when we can change some players in the first XI.

on whether we should have scored more…
We created chances and I think today we could have won by more than two goals. I think we need to continue with this spirit to play with this intensity and to keep it up for 90 minutes. We need to create chances and goals are coming. We deserved to score more. Auba had two chances also when he was on the pitch and I think this is the way. My problem is when we cannot create changes, but today this wasn’t the issue. Also we conceded two good chances to them, but I also think Bernd played very well and helped us a lot.

on back-to-back wins in the Premier League…
For us the first competition is the Premier League because it’s giving us the possibility to be consistent. It’s the first target for us, but also the Europa League. The Premier League is giving us consistency and at the moment I think we are feeling strong at home. Away in the last match we won away at Huddersfield, but I think we need more consistency away. We know that.

on whether games coming quickly could benefit the team…
We have the habit to play a lot of matches in one week. I think today I am happy because I said to them, Thursday I was very proud of them after how they worked in a very difficult match for the result. Also it was a dangerous match with the result of the first leg losing 1-0. Today we decided to do some changes in the squad and it’s very important to carry on with our intensity and performance with different players. We need to be together and we can feel stronger with every player, and the possibility of using different players in different matches with the intensity that we want to play.

on Manchester United drawing with Liverpool…
Our focus is on our way because we cannot control the result with Manchester United, Chelsea or Tottenham, only when we are going to play against them. That’s the only moment when we can decide their result and ours. The most important thing in our matches is to think step by step and game by game and on Wednesday we want three points against Bournemouth. We want the same three points against Tottenham and the only difference is that we can control our result and their result. Our focus is to win Wednesday and use the players who can give the best performance possible with intensity, quality and organisation like we showed today.