Unai Emery: We need to create a big mentality

Emery is ready to take on Manchester City.

BOOTHYPE caught up with Unai Emery one day before Arsenal kick start their pre-season against elite opposition in the International Champions Cup 2018 in Singapore.

Q: Have you decided on your formation? Perhaps your preferred centre back pairing?
A: We are working with 5 centre backs and we’re trying every match, every training session with these 5 players. I don’t know who will play in the first official match (Man City). We are going to try tomorrow against Atletico Madrid and give an opportunity to players. We’ll look at performances and choose the first players to play against Manchester City.

Q: How’s the Ozil situation and how’s the team supporting him so far?
A: It’s going very well. He came with us for training last Monday and you want to give him some normality. He’s very nice every day and trains well with his partners. We want to give him a good feeling with us.

Q: Arsenal has been criticized for having a lack of a big game mentality in recent years. How are you going to change that in the first 2 big games against Man City and Chelsea?
A: We have more quality in the team. We have players with a good mentality and experience. We want to start against the best teams in the Premier League – Manchester City and Chelsea. They’re 2 teams that won the last 2 Premier Leagues and to start with our supporters (at home) is very good and I’m sure the team is going to arrive on the first match (in good form).

Arsenal Head Coach - Unai Emery takes the team through their paces.
Head Coach – Unai Emery takes the team through their paces. Photo: Arsenal FC Facebook

Q: There’s strong reports in Italy that Ivan Gazidis is going to AC Milan. Are you aware of what’s going on?
A: I speak with him everyday. We are committed here for many many years. I think he’s continuing here because it’s a very big project and his commitment with us, Arsenal Football Club, is very big.

Q: Has he told you he’s staying?
A: We are speaking about every decision for our club.

Q: You seem to have made your transfer business early. Is that an advantage for Arsenal as compared to other clubs?
A: Every team in the Premier League is signing important players. I think our club is doing very well to sign new players here. I am very happy we are working to improve quickly, to be together everyday and enjoy our supporters with every match here in Singapore. We need to create a big mentality and a big team.

Q: Most of the top teams’ managers don’t have their star players with them for pre-season. You have almost all of them here. Do you think it’s an advantage to develop your style of play and get a step ahead?
A: I don’t know about that. Elneny, Iwobi, Ozil have arrived and may play tomorrow or Saturday. Coming back next week we still have Ospina, Monreal, Welbeck, Xhaka, Toreirra, who is an important player.

Q: Who within the team has adapted the high pressing approach best?
A: We want to create one mentality, a team which plays with a big personality to be a protagonist in each match. Now it’s very important for me to view every player and also the young players. It is a good moment for young players to play, work daily. This is the young players’ moment. Yes it is the moment for every player but it’s a good time for (the young players) to work with us and display their quality.

Mesut Ozil training in Singapore
Emery has most star players back (including Ozil) for pre-season.

Q: Speaking of youngsters, you brought Emile Smith Rowe on tour. Tell us why he’s here with the team and do share your thoughts about his talents.
A: It was the club’s decision to give me young players (present and future). Emile is one of the recommendations by the club to start with us. I am very happy with him. He’s played with the national team (at youth level) and he’s improving in the Arsenal academy. At 17, he’s near, with his quality, to appear in the first team. I am very happy with him.

Q: What are you goals for the coming season?
A: Work hard, improve every day. The focus is to win the first match against Manchester City.

Q: Have you, as a squad, discussed the Mesut Ozil situation?
A: No. For him, there is a difference between the national team and with us (at Arsenal). With us, the normality helps him to feel good every day. This normality is the best for him and I am sure he is going to have a big season with Arsenal. I want to help him and every player, everyone in the club feels the same as we want him to show his quality with us.

BOOTHYPE will continue to provide coverage of the 2018 International Champions Cup. Follow us on Instagram at @boothypeofficial for behind the scenes footage of player trainings and match day events. Quotes from this interview have also appeared on the Arseblog.

Founder and editor of BOOTHYPE, Hats loves nothing more than a control/power boot that'll add a little something to his first touch. He counts the Puma evoPower 1 and the Nike PhantomVSN as some of his all-time favourites. The one that got away? The adidas Predator Mania in champagne.
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