The Gunners boss has spoken to the press after his side’s 3-0 win over Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League group stages at the Emirates Stadium.
That’s nine wins in 10 this season. Would you give your team 9/10 tonight?
What I give is that every game is difficult to win and that’s what we’ve done today, making a lot of changes and giving players that fully deserved the minutes to play. I’m really happy with the result, scoring three goals and keeping a clean sheet. But as well, I’m very conscious that there are things we can do much better, especially the way we dominated the game in certain periods.
What was the reason behind the early subs?
Well because some of them they haven’t played many minutes and we could sense they were getting tired. There were also players that needed minutes without overloading them for Sunday and I think it worked pretty well.
Kjetil Knutsen is often linked with jobs in the Premier League. What would you say about the job he’s done at Bodo/Glimt?
I said it yesterday, when you look at what the team has done under him, the results they’ve had, the way they play, big credit to him. How brave they were here to try play they want to play here (was impressive). They’re a difficult team and I like them.
What’s the next step for the players tonight to break into the Premier League team?
The same as the others. Keep doing better and better. There are still a lot of things individually and collectively to do better and keep the standards as high as possible to reach the next level. Nothing different to the ones that didn’t play.
What did you want to see more of from your team when they were dominating?
We had spells that we were too rushed, we didn’t win enough duels, we didn’t manage the ball when we won it back well enough so it became a really open game with a lot of transitions. When you have the results in your hands you have to manage the game much better. We didn’t put 10, 15 passes together enough times to try and get in to the final third. We were effective in the final third and we looked a threat, but in terms of composure and timing between the units because we haven’t played together that much, it was lacking a bit and in football, timing is everything.
That’s two goals in two starts for Vieira. Is this what you meant when you told us to be excited about him?
Yes. You saw the quality every time he’s around the box. He’s a real threat, real intelligent player, really brave. In defending he still needs to do more, understanding more because organisation is key when you play against good teams in ball possession.
There was a moment when Jesus tracked back into his own box. How much does it please you when the big players do that?
I love his mentality. It doesn’t matter how long he plays, where he plays, in which position he plays, he always gives absolutely everything. You see his presence when he goes on the pitch, it makes the team different and his energy as well. Today also he put an outstanding action to create the third goal.
Does that show a lot about the attitude your team generally showed tonight?
Well, when he does it and he’s won everything in the last five years, imagine what the rest have to do. So follow him, because he’s always in the right spot.
Last time you had a European night in front of the a crowd, the team was knocked out and then you got COVID. Tonight was much better. How much do you enjoy European nights when they’re going well?
It’s in the DNA of this football club. Obviously we’re used to different European nights, but it was great to play under the lights, to play again in front of a full crowd supporting us and the team. We need to start to create those moments again because they are really special.
Do you have any concerns around fixture congestion with the World Cup coming?
We have a plan and an understanding of what we want to do, but this is football and there are so many uncontrollable circumstances that will determine (if) we go this way, or that way. If we use this player or that player. It’s something no-one has experienced before so we are all a bit blank there but we try to understand (how) to protect the players, especially for their wellbeing.
What pleased you most about Nketiah’s performance?
When he puts the ball in the back of the net! For any manager, this is the best moment. Obviously his work rate, attitude and application is just phenomenal but he’s got this natural ability (to score) and he does it every time.
Is he the perfect second striker to have?
I am really happy to have him in the team. He has the qualities to play for this team in any role – as a starter, finisher, however you call him. We all love his attitude and the qualities he has so we are happy to have him.
He’s scored 12 goals in his last 15 starts. It must be hard to leave him out?
It does and the good thing is today he could have scored a couple more. You have to look at what you have done (which is) great, but what can you do better? That’s his mentality and this is where we want to take him. When you see how he has evolved in the last year or two, he still has a lot of room to do that.
What impressed you most about Bodo/Glimt?
How clear and brave they are in what they want to do. They came here and tried to play exactly the same as they have played away or at home against any opponent and that’s credit to the manager because they have put that belief into the team. Very, very good team.