Unai Emery on rivals dropping points, consistency, and squad rotation

Unai Emery spoke to the press after Sunday’s victory over Southampton.

The manager spoke about the important of consistency, on rivals dropping points, and on squad rotation in the weeks ahead.

Here’s what he had to say:

On the win
“We struggled [at St Mary’s] when we played against them in a difficult moment, we played there with Xhaka at centre back, and we also had injuries to Hector Bellerin, and we lost 3-2. It was an important match.
“We spoke yesterday with respect for Southampton but thinking with a positive mentality and a positive mentality won the match today. The players were thinking about getting the three points with our supporters in our stadium and that was the motivation. For me that situation was the motivation for today.”

On switching between a back four and a back five
“They had attacking and fast players, like Redmond, and in the first action they found space in our defence and created good chances but you need your goalkeeper to make saves sometimes and I think Leno played very well and helped us a lot.
“We can play with different systems and different players, it depends. It’s not the same. If you want to attack a lot with a left and right back maybe it is better to play with three centre backs to protect the back but it depends. If [the opposition] is playing with one attacking player or two, it depends.
“Today, Lichsteiner played his best first half of the season and Sead Kolasinac is keeping consistent in each match and today he played very well defensively and offensively.”

On rotation

“On Wednesday it will be another three important points against Bournemouth here at home. I think it is the moment to use different players to get good pace, to get the best players with energy, and with quality.
“We need to use a mix to preserve some players in some matches for the next [match] because we are going to play a lot of matches. It is important to play with a big performance like today when we can change some players in the first 11.”

On the second half and not scoring more goals
“We created chances and we couldn’t today win by more than two goals but I think we need to continued playing with this spirit and this intensity; keep the intensity for 90 minutes, create chances and the goals will come.
“Today, for example, Lacazette deserved to score more and Auba had two chances also when he was on the pitch. My problem is when we cannot create the chances but today we didn’t have this problem.”

On consistency in the race for the top four
“For us, the first competition is the Premier League because it is giving us the possibility to be consistent, which is the first target for us. At the moment at home we are feeling strong. We won the last match away at Huddersfield but we need to be more consistent away, we know that.”

On the fixture pile up
“We have the habit to play three matches in one week and today I am happy also because I said to [the team] on Thursday, I was very proud of how they worked in a difficult match and also a dangerous match with the first leg result which we lost 1-0.
“Today, we decided to make some changes in the squad but it was important we carried on our intensity and our performance with different players.
“I think now we need to be together and we can feel stronger with every player and with the possibility to use different players in different matches.”

On Spurs dropping points
“Our focus is on our way because we cannot control the result of Manchester United, Chelsea, or Tottenham. When we play against them is the only moment we can decide the result but the most important thing is our match and thinking step-by-step, game-by-game and getting three points on Wednesday against Bournemouth. The same three points [are on offer] against Tottenham, with the only difference that we can control our result.
“But our focus is on Wednesday and thinking with the players who can give the best performance possible with intensity, with quality and, like today, being organised in the squad, with the first XI and with the players who can play after.”

On the injury to Iwobi
“I hope it is only one knock and not a more important injury and I hope he can play on Wednesday.”

On Lichsteiner
“He has a bad back but I hope he will also be ready for Wednesday.”

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