Unai Emery spoke to the media ahead of his side’s Premier League encounter with Bournemouth on Wednesday.
Here’s what he had to say:
On rotating with the busy schedule ahead
“I want a performance each match and our focus is tomorrow. Some players played on Sunday with very big intensity and very big energy so maybe they can give us the same energy and intensity [against Bournemouth]. Above all, I am looking to balance all the individual qualities to find the best performance.”
On Alex Iwobi’s form
“I am very happy and I think he is working a lot to improve. He has energy, he has quality, he is thinking about improving and he can do it. We are demanding of him and he is demanding of himself and I think he can get better in his quality.
“When he gets in the attacking third and in the box, he can improve with assists and scoring more but he is giving us attacking moments and open space for other players when they arrive.”
On Denis Suarez starting against Bournemouth
“I am very demanding of myself to find the best performance from the players. I think Denis Suarez is improving first with adaptation, every day, and than his quality can improve a lot. I think it is not ok for him to play 90 minutes because he needs rhythm but one possibility is to start tomorrow or stay on the bench and help us [later in the game]. It is the same as any other player.”
On maintaining intensity in the team
“Big intensity is difficult to keep for 90 minutes, the high intensity, and we need to learn to play 90 minutes with balance but the intensity is very important.
“When you can’t keep the intensity for 90 minutes, you need to keep the balance by being organised. Our mentality is improving and our message is the same for tomorrow: ‘be organised, quality, intensity, and aggressiveness’.
“To keep high intensity for 90 minutes is not easy. When you are doing the high pressing with high intensity, you can lose some organisation on the pitch. Also, when you are organised, you can lose some intensity in the pressing – the balance is very important.”
On the Bournemouth match suiting Mesut Ozil
“First, I respect Bournemouth. They have a good coach, they are organised with big intensity players, quality players, and we know we need to have respect. We need to push for 90 minutes with our qualities.
“It is important, most of all, to be available to play – sometimes in the first 11 but we need players on the bench with a good mentality to help us win in the second half, or when there are injuries, or when the players are tired.
“For Mesut Ozil, Sunday was a good challenge, to be on the bench and help us like he did in the last 30 minutes. It was a good performance, good spirit, and I think we are stronger like that. His quality, his skills, his combination in the attacking third for us is important.”
On whether finishing in the top four would be an overachievement
“We enjoy the moment but we are only thinking game by game. Tomorrow we can continue in this position but only if we win. We need to be consistent in 38 matches and tomorrow is one more.
“We need to go against Bournemouth thinking ‘we need to take the three points’.”
On holding off challengers for the top four
“Process. It’s one process. Process to build up every day, every training, every match, take information, know whether are players are in a good moment, how they are responding in the difficult moments, how they respond is very important.
“Above all is confidence and trust in ourselves, in our work, in our game plan every match and tomorrow is the same. Now is very important moment in the season with the Premier League and Europa League and I am looking for the best performance and quality and for the team to be consistent.”
On links with Monchi for the technical director role
“This is one issue for the club. My focus and the players’ focus, the coaches focus, is each match and the club is working on how we can improve and I hope we can be better in the future with people working for us.”
On the technical director role itself
“I was usually working with [a sporting director] in all the teams and I was working here also with Sven Mistlintat and I worked well with him. The club is working for change and the possibility of working with this structure and it is one issue the club is working on. My focus is to train every day with the players.”
On the furore surrounding Kepa Arrizabalaga
“I have my own opinion but I think it is only for me and not to explain my opinion to you [the press] if I don’t know all of the situation.”
On whether there is something wrong with Denis Suarez
“He is working every day, improving, knowing us, and my philosophies. The adaptation needs time. Little by little he needs to keep confident, get to know his team mates during training.”
On taking up the option to buy Suarez in the summer
“For me, football – each match, each week – can change a lot. Every match, we are doing a test. My test as a coach is tomorrow and it is the same for the players. Our demands are very big; to work hard, to be focussed for every match, to show the coaches you can improve and can be better every day.
“I don’t about the situations at other clubs but for me, it is that.”