Arsenal boss Unai Emery after victory over Rennes sees Gunners ease into Europa League quarter-finals: ‘We can be proud of our supporters and our players’
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Arsenal boss Unai Emery has been speaking after his side’s 3-0 victory over Rennes at the Emirates which saw the Gunners reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League 4-3 on aggregate against their French rivals.
On the game...
Good evening. We can be proud of our supporters and our players today because it’s been a very difficult week against Manchester United on Sunday and then today against Rennes after our defeat away. I think today we played very, very consistently in the 90 minutes, being also competitive without the ball above all and very serious defensively. I missed a little more control with the ball, some possession. But they left, usually a lot of players in the attacking third and gave us a lot of possibilities to attack the space against them and run more in the transition. It’s not all like we wanted with the control, but I think our match was competitive and it was very well today.
On Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and why he subbed Alex Lacazette…
We decided also one plan for 90 minutes because we knew that we needed 90 minutes and maybe more, because at 3-0 if they had scored we were going to play extra time. I think Iwobi and Micki, they deserved before the match to play today, and when they support us for 30 minutes, changing with a good work from Mesut and good work from Lacazette, they helped us a lot. These 10 minutes after this change, their impact was a good impact with the goal and creating two chances. I think we need every player. Today the first 11 were important but also the other players.
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On if we are now favourites to win the competition…
These two matches gave us a very difficult way. This competition, today for example, Inter Milan is out, Sevilla is out. A big surprise. The last eight teams are very important teams and it is going to be very difficult. But we are going to think the same ideas before this match, before Sunday’s match against Manchester United. The next match is the most important match for us and the next competition is the same. After 15 days, we are going to play against Newcastle here in the Premier League and then other matches in the Europa League. We are going to prepare for each match as if it’s the most important.
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On Arsenal and Chelsea both progressing and there being four English clubs still in the UCL...
I knew in the Champions League and the Europa League, in different moments it is sometimes Spanish clubs, other times English clubs or Italian or German clubs. But it is one thing. Champions League is very important but the Europa League grew up a lot and now is giving every team the possibility to play in the Champions League. In the domestic league, like here, we have six teams playing to be in the top four. Two teams are going out and the Europa League is giving us a big opportunity also to take one way to go to the Champions League. And also, it’s one title. I said to the players today, I am excited about this competition. It’s not just because you can get to the Champions League through this competition. It’s also because it’s one title and I think we can feel the possibility to win one title, doing this way with a difficult moment like today and playing also against big teams. But I think we can feel this competition like in the Premier League, to do a good way and create, with our supporters, a big atmosphere and a big feeling together to do this way in the Premier League and also here in the Europa League. Together and stronger.
On Auba’s mask celebration and the booking…
I don’t have an opinion about that. For me the most important is his performance today, giving us the goals, with the assist, and that’s the best thing for me.
On whether this has given us belief…
It’s giving us very big confidence on Sunday against Manchester United and the same with this performance and this victory. This comeback was very difficult but I think our reaction was a very good reaction from every player. Playing under pressure is good. Growing up under pressure, every player, like a team. And to feel difficult moments to give us our best performances in these moments. For us, today and Sunday, we were playing and being competitive. I think it’s good confidence for us to feel that. After, if I am very demanding of myself, I want to take the best confidence with the ball, with the control with the ball with the possession, because I think against Manchester United and today, we lost a little bit these moments with the ball to give us the confidence with the ball and to control the match with the ball.
On if he wishes the international break wasn’t here…
Yes, but it’s like that. It’s also giving us some days off to rest. But we are going to continue working next week. We are going to go to Dubai and some players are going to their national teams and in two weeks we are going to prepare against Newcastle, an exciting moment and the next matches in the Europa League. I think we have the possibility in the next month to do something important.
On setting a benchmark with these two performances…
I think we were playing and being very competitive. The clean sheet is important and gives us confidence with some players scoring, different players, and also using different systems. We started with 3-4-1-2 and finished 3-4-3. When we were defensively together, we were playing with a 5-2-1-2 or 5-4-1 in the last minutes with Micki and Iwobi. I think we can play and can change each match with the players we have, with the system we have, while continuing to be effective.