Unai Emery sat down with Arsenal.com on our last full day in Los Angeles, and he had plenty to be positive about.
Fresh from our 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup, Unai explained why Joe Willock has reached a new level and looked ahead to the rest of our US tour.
Here's what our head coach said:
Unai, how much do you enjoy being here in the US?
Good afternoon. We are here in the pre-season and the pre-season is very important for us to achieve confidence, to achieve our rhythm and also to use different players, young players. That can help them with the possibility to train with us, to play some matches against big teams. After, we are really so far away from London but here we have good facilities and also a good atmosphere in each match, in Denver and yesterday here in LA. At the moment, every player, and I think all the staff and all of Arsenal, we are enjoying working.
You mentioned big games. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid... when you play the best in pre-season, is that better preparation for the season?
I prefer to play against the best teams in the pre-season. It's really not the best when you're playing matches without achieving anything, but to play against Bayern, Fiorentina and Real Madrid, we are going to have a high level in front of our players. Above all, it's for our preparation and how the young players can respond against them, that's very important as well, and for them to know this level and how they can progress, that they can take confidence playing against them. After, the result is not very important, but what's very important for us is how we can see them playing against that team, and also the progression for us tactically and physically with all the players so that we can achieve the best possible result in our preparation. We're also thinking and looking forward to the first match against Newcastle.
The first game of the ICC went well against Bayern. What did you like about the performance?
I am very happy with the two matches. Against Colorado we played a lot of young players and Martinelli had his first match with us. He scored and he knows our ideal style. Yesterday against Bayern Munich it was the same. We used a lot of players, experienced players, but we also gave the youngsters chances during the match. Willock, Bukayo, Reiss Nelson, Nketiah and Robbie. We gave them minutes against a good team and it's not about our victory, it's about our performance and above all our idea of playing because we did a lot of things very well. We're remembering that it's pre-season and that we also need to take on these different issues physically and tactically. At the moment, I think we can be happy.
It's good to see the young players playing so well. Joe Willock was impressive in midfield. What do you like about him?
It's all progress with him because last year he started with us in the pre-season. His performance today is very different to last year, maybe because he knows our idea and spirit better. He's got a very big motivation and a very big ambition individually to make good performances, and he listens a lot to our idea. We are speaking a lot to him individually, with Carcedo, with me. I really, really think that he made one more step last year during the season and he finished it very well with us, playing 12 minutes in the final against Chelsea with a big performance. We now want him to take another step more in his capacity to be with us, with a big help in our performance and our idea.
Two more games, one in Charlotte and one in Washington D.C. We're guaranteed lots of Arsenal fans and lots of passion. How much have you enjoyed being around the Arsenal fans here?
In Denver it was amazing, the atmosphere from Arsenal supporters. Yesterday it was more of the same here in LA. When you are travelling around the world, you can feel a lot of support from Arsenal and you are very comfortable with that because you know you are playing in London, you are playing here, you are playing in Singapore last year. There's a lot of supporters and they are following you. They are wanting a good result for you and good matches, good play for us.
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