Arsenal manager Unai Emery spoke to the press after the Europa League win against Qarabag on Thursday, with the accent being on the Southampton trip on Sunday.
On the Eurpoean break helping the team recover between games
The players have a habit of playing a lot of matches per week, month, year, and they are ready to play on Sunday, on Wednesday against Tottenham at the Emirates in the Carabao Cup, on Saturday against Burnley, then Brighton, then Liverpool. The team needs every player, and rest and recovery between matches.
The Europa League is very important because it’s a chance for a trophy, but it’s also a chance to secure Champions League football for next season.
The first task – to finish top of the group – has been achieved, and now the focus is on Sunday and Southampton. Some players who helped with good performances can rest on Sunday, and some can play, and those who were rested on Thursday are OK for Sunday.
On Southampton having a new manager and the challenge of preparing the game in those circumstances
Emery watched Southampton play and they have good players, and their position in the Premier League table comes as a surprise for the Spaniard. He believes the change of the coach will bring improvement for the Saints, and he0s certain it will be a tough contest. They need the three points, and with the support coming from the stands of the St. Mary’s Stadium he expects the hosts to push hard to win, but the game is important for Arsenal as well, and they’re going to prepare for a tough match with their own ideas, quality and performance.
On solving the defensive crisis
The manager has had time to think about the problem. First of all, he says the performance of Sokratis and Koscielny against Qarabag was good, and now it’s time to think about Sunday. Mustafi, Sokratis and Holding are out, but Emery believes in his players, and he thinks he can use another player in the centre-back position if he needs to, and he already has a name in mind for the task. That said, he first needs to see how things would go on Friday and Saturday with Koscielny, and the hope is the captain would be ready. But if he’s not, there are players that can step in.
On Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey
Ozil came back from his injuries with a good work rate and put in a good performance on Thursday, and the manager believes he will be OK for Sunday. It’s a slightly different situation with Ramsey, who wasn’t ready to face Qarabag. The medical staff expressed their belief that the Welshman would be able to train on Friday and Saturday, and then he would be assessed for Sunday.
Arsenal can be backed at 19/20 to come back victorious from the south coast.