Press conference

Why Granit Xhaka started at centre back

We’ve seen Granit Xhaka deployed in a variety of positions this season - and he continued at centre half in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup defeat to Tottenham

In Unai Emery’s post-match press conference, our head coach explained why Xhaka was deployed at the back, and reflected on an evening where we were made to rue missed chances.

on the result…
Good evening. I think we worked like we wanted to, like we’d prepared for this match. We created chances in the first half to score, but today the efficiency was not good for us. We didn’t concede a lot of chances, but they have good players with quality who scored. We worked for 90 minutes and in our moments we didn’t take our chances. They scored theirs. Only the first half, I think we were good on the pitch but then sometimes we needed a bit more of the ball to keep possession longer. But that’s not easy against them because they press really well. Our planned game, we worked on that. It was poor finishing.

on if poor finishing or tiredness cost us…
The first one. We had Micki with the one on one [chance early on] and they scored with their first one-on-one. but this is football. Today I am happy with our performance, but not happy with our result. But also I think we are doing our process. They are ahead of us in this process. We need to continue creating our identity, our strong ideas to be more consistent in the games. But this is our way. Now we’ve finished in this competition and are thinking about Saturday because we have another three very important competitions, the first is the Premier League, then the Europa League and also the FA Cup. Today we finished this competition. 

on whether there was a problem with a high line...
For the second goal we were pushing and playing with some risk on the pitch because we needed to create chances to score. We were having a lot of attacking moments, which meant they could score from one transition. Their efficiency was good - they have the players for that. 

on Xhaka playing at centre back and what he brings to the role…
Every player is helping us with big commitments, playing in different positions, because sometimes the team needs them there. Laurent Koscielny played on Sunday and after coming back from his injury, starting against Tottenham would have been a lot of minutes on the pitch. Granit is helping and I am happy with him and his performance. His commitment to help us is very important..

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