Press conference

Unai on Sheffield United, Ozil, racism: transcript

Unai Emery

Unai Emery was asked about a range of subjects in his press conference on Thursday ahead of our return to Premier League action.

Our head coach discussed our squad strength, Alex Lacazette's return from injury, Mesut Ozil and more.

Read on for a full transcript:
on playing on Monday after internationals...
Good afternoon. For us it's not in our hands to decide when we play. We can play on Saturday, Sunday or Monday. We played in Manchester on Monday and we play in Sheffield on Monday as well. For us, it just gives us more days to prepare for the game because a lot of players don't come back until tomorrow, Friday, so for this reason it can be better. We can play on Saturday or Sunday, that doesn't change a lot because our mentality is to prepare as much as possible for the match with the days we have. In the next international break, we are going to play on Saturday and we are prepared to play each day as decided by the league.
on Sheffield United...
It really is amazing their performance with the manager and the atmosphere in Sheffield. They are playing a lot of playing who have come up from the Championship and have had good performances since the start of the season. They're a difficult team and they have a big motivation playing this season in the Premier League. and giving good performances. With their supporters, they are going to push us a lot but we're ready and we're going to prepare for the match as well as possible. It's a big challenge in each match and for the three points. We want to give our supporters there a good 90 minutes, and also try to win the game.
on any injuries to internationals...
Not at the moment. They are coming back tomorrow, the last players. Our preparation with them is to give them two days after their last game with the national team, two days off to rest. Then they will come back. The last players played on Tuesday, so have Wednesday and Thursday off. Then they come back in with us. Some players arrived yesterday, some today, but then the last ones come back tomorrow.
on Alex Lacazette's availability for Monday...
Today is his first training back with us. He finished it well and he's feeling well with his injuries. Tomorrow we will be training again and he will be with us. We will decide. The most important thing is that first he is training, then secondly it's whether he can be with us and it depends how he can feel in the next days training with us, whether his ankle is not giving him any more problems. It's positive for us that he's started training and that he's a possibility for Monday. I don't know whether he's ready for 90 minutes or on the bench. We'll decide that over the next days, but it's very important for him to come back to training with us.
on Kieran Tierney...

He's ready to play. Now we have two options in that left-back role with Sead Kolasinac and him. We're going to play a lot of matches after Monday. We will need every player. It depends how he comes into the first training with us, Sead, after his international matches. We now have two players in that position and we can use one on Monday, it depends how they are, one or the other.
on Mesut Ozil's future...
With Mesut, this year started in a difficult [way] for him. In pre-season he worked well and was playing matches, but then he had the problems with Sead and it stopped. After that problem, he was sick one week and then he lost a lot of training to continue working and [finding] his feet. But the last two or three weeks, he's improved with us in training and I think he's feeling good. I didn't [promise] him that he'd play because I want to make sure he's ready and is available in training, and also giving us every day a good feeling in training, then he can play. My idea is to use every player and he is one in the squad. He has very big skills, the quality we will need in the next matches. I am happy now with how he's improving and training every day. He is one player more in the squad.
on him saying other players deserving to play more than Ozil before...
When I said that, it's because at that moment maybe physically, maybe also with more rhythm, it depends on each match what we need. Other players were in front of him at this moment. Now, I am telling you I am feeling better with him every day in training and he is another possibility in the squad now to play and to help us.
on the racism England experienced in Bulgaria...
We were speaking about it two months ago and it's the same. Uefa has to be strong to finish this action like that. The responsibility is to all of us. We all have individual responsibility to be strong [when there is] unacceptable behaviour in that situation and to help everyone to finish that
on how Gareth Southgate handled the situation...
It's difficult but the most important thing is that it's not the responsibility of one coach, one player or one team. It's for everybody. We need to be strong as a football world and Uefa to finish that sort of behaviour. It's a small moment and only some people showing this behaviour that we need to close.
on if he agrees with UEFA's 'three step' protocol...
But I think first we need to also be confidence with the responsibility of UEFA to add all the improvements to finish with racism. Really, I know it's not easy but I think they are going to do that and we need to also be strong in helping them.

on playing seven games in 19 days and if his squad is stronger now than ever...
But we have players, they are going to be playing seven matches in three weeks, they were playing with the national team also and a lot of players had two matches in five days. Our players - every player - is prepared to play a lot of matches and when we decided how we can do our squad for this season, we were thinking also to achieve and to have different players and two players in general for each position in the squad, for us to use them when we are taking some injuries or when we are playing a lot of matches, like we are going to play now. Now we are in the Premier League, the first and most important competition for us and we are third in the table. For Monday, it's another big challenge for us to keep that position and we know that to keep that position we need to do a strong 90 minutes, looking for then best performance and keeping the three points for us. Really, every player is in this way. For example, the last match we played, against Bournemouth, we found in the second half in some moments that important three points we were playing for and some times we felt a little anxiety for that. But really, we were very happy to be finishing with the three points and we are also knowing that we can improve and we can manage better playing at home, playing away with our tactical issues on the pitch. The players finished the last match with some doubt because in the second half we didn't finish like we wanted, controlling the match. That two weeks we were now with the international team break, I think has been very good to start again with that third position, for our confidence and knowing we can do better. But being competitive, I think we are getting better little-by-little and we are looking to play the best we possibly can with our tactical plan for each match.

on who he thinks are our biggest threats for top four...
I don't want to speak now on the same targets we have in this season, because we know. Our target is on Monday and on Monday we are going to play for three points, away against Sheffield United. We have two teams in front of us and we have other teams behind us with only one point difference with some of them. On Monday, we will need to continue improving in our way and the most important thing is to win the three points. But also, to do one step ahead, improving the things that we will need for the next matches. Our challenge is on Monday because it's the next game. That three points is going to decide how we will be in the table after that match and then we continue thinking of the next match in the Premier League and also in the Europa League and then the Carabao Cup. Also, because the football is changing in each match, we need to have our focus for the next match and the next three points.

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