Another game, another goalless first half.
After a frustrating opening 45 minutes where we failed to make the breakthrough, Unai Emery brought on Matteo Guendouzi for Alex Iwobi and changed our system.
But what was our head coach's thinking behind these moves? This is what he told the media in his post-match press conference:
on what he said at half-time…
We spoke about these things. It was very difficult to find a goal or break through their lines defensively. Their transition was a very good transition. We didn’t want to concede another goal because it makes it more difficult, but our idea changed a little bit because we spoke at half-time. We needed to take more risks in the match. The risks were thinking that we could win but we also needed good balance in the transition against a good team with good transitions. I think the team played with character and we had chances to draw before our goal. We also continued to look for ways to create and to win the game but then we drew. In the last five or 10 minutes, we had the same idea with the risk but also thinking to win. At the end of the game we could say, ‘OK, the two teams both deserved it’.
on Matteo Guendouzi coming on for Alex Iwobi…
It was a tactical change. We wanted to play our right and left backs deeper and win back more possession inside with Sead and Hector. Sometimes we did this situation well and we created chances to score. Their work was good defensively because their block was very high.
on whether first-half performances worry him…
When you are playing over 90 minutes, the two teams start the game with more intensity. Little by little over 90 minutes you need to impose your game, your job and your individual quality or physical strength. In the first half, they were also very good and it was not easy to play against them in the individual duels. Maybe it’s one thing we can improve but that comes naturally in our work.
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