Crystal Palace v Arsenal

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Interview

Unai Emery interview: read a full transcript

Unai Emery

A matter of hours after getting home from our win in Lisbon, Unai Emery was back at the training ground to prepare the players for our next test - a Premier League trip to Crystal Palace.

Our head coach took a training session and then made his way to the media facilities to face the cameras and reporters.
 
Read on for a full transcript of Unai’s pre-match briefing.
 
on whether our run has taken him by surprise…

Maybe it’s one process but we need to be very demanding of ourselves to improve and also when we are winning, we need to look at where we can improve tactically to progress individually and collectively. We do this with tactical things and by taking a lot of confidence, by taking a lot of responsibility and showing a lot of ambition to keep our demands very high in order to improve. It’s true that we’ve won the last matches, but each match is very important for us and very difficult for us. It’s important that we don’t stop and that we continue to work every day and keep up our concentration for each match, to do that with high intensity.

on what he thought the squad needed most when he first arrived…
I think the first thing we spoke about when I arrived here was to improve our competitiveness, both individually and collectively as a team. We are doing that. Step by step, I think the team is more competitive and we are not giving the opposition a lot of chances to score easy goals. At the moment, we are conceding a lot more than we want to but in the last matches, we are learning to control games better, little by little. Also, we are not losing. The most important thing is that these players and this team, like over the last few years, have this combination of quality and competitiveness. Then we can finish with a lot of players in the opposition box. This is the balance between being more competitive and not losing our identity and style. We also need to keep that identity in this team.

on whether Palace are a better side than their results have shown…
When I was in France and in Spain, I would sometimes watch the Premier League and Crystal Palace is a team that doesn’t have a lot of big names in it, like the best teams in the Premier League. But they have very good players and produce very good performances. You watch it and say, ‘These players are very good and they have a very big level to play against the best teams’. Now I am here and I am watching, and I know that Crystal Palace is a very good team with very good players, with a very good coach and a lot of experience in the Premier League. For us, the respect is very big. I think they deserve more points in the Premier League and they deserve to be higher in the table, and for us it’s about having the respect and then preparing well for this match if we are to beat them.

on this being the kind of opposition to prove ourselves against…
We want to think about the next matches and our improvement comes from not resting in our analysis after we win games. Also, our demands are very high and every day our players work to these demands. We need to continue doing that with a high intensity. We can win if we produce the best performances.
 
on Iwobi saying that he can try things again even if he makes a mistake…
I think for himself and for our other players, we need to work on things every day. We can’t just stop at one mistake. The mistake is to learn and to attempt another action. The confidence is giving them the possibility to do the things well and also, when they make a mistake, it makes them want to do better on the next attempt. I think my idea with the players is to give them confidence every day by working hard in every session, in the video analysis, with the videos we give them. We give them the opportunity to watch their action first, their good actions, their bad actions, and this is the way for them to take a lot of confidence or learn how to improve. They think, ‘How can I improve?’ or ‘How can I do better in a different situation within the game?’
 
on if we are title challengers…
Each match is our focus. Our focus is Sunday. If you win or lose on Sunday, it’s a very different moment after. When we started with the losses in the first two matches, maybe a lot of people were thinking it could be a difficult way for the club this season. Now, when we are winning, maybe the same people are thinking we are on the way to arrive in the top four. Also, for me, it’s the balance when we are winning or losing, when we are doing our process with the balance in the middle. We aren’t the best team now and when we lost, we weren’t the worst team. We’re a good team who need to improve a lot of things and take more confidence, responsibility and ambition to improve. We have a very big spirit to work together with a very big demand.
 
on Ozil and if he’s benefiting from not playing for Germany…
I want his commitment, his behaviour, with very consistent actions every day in training and with the team. For us, he’s a very important player because of his quality. He’s showing us that we need his quality. It’s the consistency every day in training and in matches, also his mentality to improve more in his work every day. He can [do that]. He stopped with his national team and his focus is on us in each moment in each match. I want him to continue to continue with his commitment, his behaviour, playing and thinking he can improve more. Each match is a good opportunity for him and the team to continue doing the things better.

on Ramsey’s contract situation…
I’ve spoken two or three times individually for how we can to do this way together. My focus and his focus I want on the team. It’s true that each player has individual contractual situations to speak with the club, but we need, separately, two things. For me it’s, and with Aaron it’s, very clear - our conversations. And also yesterday he played with this commitment, with this behaviour, with the focus to help the team. I am very happy with how he played against Sporting, individually and collectively. I want the same from Sunday and for these matches. Focus on the team and focus on being together in this situation and then we’ll see. Aaron and the club can speak and he can think for his individual contract with the club and with his thinking maybe of the possibility that he won’t continue here but, for me, for us and for the team, it’s about being together and getting better and in each training for us.
 
on if he understands Ramsey’s frustration…
I don’t know if he’s frustrated but [in my conversation] with him, we spoke two days ago, and he’s continuing with the focus and with his commitment with us, thinking for Arsenal.
 
on if he enjoys wins before thinking of the next game…
Yesterday’s match against Sporting has finished and now my focus is Sunday, only Sunday and preparing the best performance for us. I’m also thinking with every player how we are after this match, to be the best individual players to start in the first XI and help us in the 90 minutes.

on how frustrating it is things haven’t clicked in first half of games…
Every coach works a lot of prepare the team and to analyse the opposition. For me also I’m very demanding to prepare for each match knowing the best possible position. Then, [what’s important] is the analysis for us to be in the best position for our performance when we play against Crystal Palace on Sunday, for example. How can we improve? One is to be more consistent in the first half, controlling the game and imposing our ideas. For the 90 minutes, we have a good balance but our ideas is also in the first half to do better in each match.
 
on whether he's excited about the team getting the first half right...
What is normal is that each team, each player at the beginning of matches, they are very excited and in the best moment physically, and they have concentration. The most important is to have passion progressing in the match, continuing with the concentration very high and continue physically and keeping the good moment for the 90 minutes. One reason is this.

on what he wants from his captains...
The most important thing is that they are an example for other players and they are the captain, [whether it’s] Petr Cech, or Aaron, or Mesut, or Xhaka or another player, the most important thing is to be a big example for all; for the players, the club and the supporters. These players, when they are like a captain, have a big responsibility to help us in this position.

on the one message he gives to his players...
I have a different message for each match, but one is ‘work’. The message is work and the feeling together and our thing every day is the football. Every player has family, they have life after football, but the football is 70 per cent for our thinking every day and our focus, preparing for each training session and preparing for each match. The players' careers are very short and maybe they can have 10, 12, 15 years in their career, and they need to have the focus on football and with their football.

Pre-Match Report

Crystal Palace v Arsenal: The Brief

Spare a thought for Unai Emery.

Our head coach had barely got back to the training ground after our win in Lisbon before he was fielding hard-hitting questions ahead of our next game.

Are we title contenders? “We’re focused on Sunday.” Does he prefer roast or paella? “In England, roast is best. In Spain, paella.” And so on.

As much as his English has improved, Unai prefers his conversations on the training pitch, where he’s been busy preparing the team for its next challenge. Not to mention the tantalising prospect of a 12th consecutive win.

No side in any of the top five European leagues is on a longer winning run than us, and our club record of 14 - set under George Graham in 1987 - is within sight.

First, we have to deal with Crystal Palace, and you’re in the right place for a comprehensive pre-match briefing. Scroll down for our chat with Unai, the latest team news, match stats, and a chance to predict how the game will unfold.

The Breakdown - Crystal Palace
Emery on Iwobi
Team News - Crystal Palace
Dangerman - Crystal Palace
AN Live - Crystal Palace

Quotes

‘My first goal was to improve our competitiveness’

Unai Emery

Unai Emery studied our team carefully before he was appointed as head coach in May. And his first aim? To make us compete again.

 
Three FA Cups in four seasons has brought silverware back to the Emirates in recent times, but back-to-back finishes outside the top four meant there was plenty of room for improvement in the Premier League.
 
A run of 11 straight wins is compelling evidence that we have stepped up in class and, while there’s a long way to go this season, Unai is pleased with the progress we’ve made.
 
“I think the first thing we spoke about when I arrived here was to improve our competitiveness, both individually and collectively as a team,” he said.

 
“We are doing that. Step by step, I think the team is more competitive and we are not giving the opposition a lot of chances to score easy goals.
 
“At the moment, we are conceding a lot more than we want to but, in the last matches, we are learning to control games better, little by little. Also, we are not losing.
 
“The most important thing is that these players and this team, like over the last few years, have this combination of quality and competitiveness. Then we can finish with a lot of players in the opposition box.
 
“This is the balance between being more competitive and not losing our identity and style. We also need to keep that identity in this team.”

Gallery

Pictures: First team train ahead of Crystal Palace

Arsenal train ahead of Palace

We’re back in Premier League action on Sunday when we travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace. 

On Saturday the lads took part in their final training session ahead of the game, and our club photographer was at London Colney to send back these pictures:

Interview

Emery’s message to Iwobi: don’t fear mistakes

Unai Emery with Alex Iwobi

Alex Iwobi has been a revelation this season, and the Nigeria international credits Unai Emery for his fine form.

For all of Mesut Ozil’s heroics against Leicester, Iwobi outshone even him at times, and it’s hardly a one-off - the 22-year-old has been sensational since he scored at Chelsea in our second game.
 
Emery has breathed new life into Iwobi by urging him to express himself and not be afraid to make mistakes.
 
“We can’t just stop at one mistake,” said the head coach. “The mistake is to learn and to attempt another action.
 
“The confidence is giving them the possibility to do the things well and also, when they make a mistake, it makes them want to do better on the next attempt.
 
“I think my idea with the players is to give them confidence every day by working hard in every session, in the video analysis, with the videos we give them. We give them the opportunity to watch their action first, their good actions, their bad actions, and this is the way for them to take a lot of confidence or learn how to improve.
 
“They think, ‘How can I improve?’ or ‘How can I do better in a different situation within the game?’
 
“I think for [Alex] and for our other players, we need to work on things every day.”