How big is this match?
I think you could see after the first leg how disappointed we were. It’s still only half-time and you could see how big this game was for us. Tomorrow even more.
How important is it to have everybody available tomorrow?
I think all of them are very important for us. I don’t know if everyone will be fit but we want everyone in every moment. It doesn’t matter if they’re from the starting lineup or from the bench, I think they all have their qualities. Hopefully they are all fit and we can count on them.
Are Arsenal too big not to be involved in Europe?
When you think of a future without Arsenal in European competition, it doesn’t feel right. Our job is to make sure it doesn’t come true. Arsenal belongs to Europe and that’s our target. That’s our job.
Has it been difficult for you to be consistent behind that constantly changing defence?
I think it’s never easy when you change the defence all the time. But I don’t think this is an excuse. We have so many games that we have to rotate. We had some injuries so it’s normal. When you see the other teams, they also change their defensive line. It’s not an excuse to say that and it’s too easy to say it’s because we change the defence, the full backs or something else. Everybody knows what to do, we have a big squad and we have good quality. It’s not only the defence or the relationship between the defence and goalkeeper. It’s the whole team who defends the goal. Like I said, it’s too easy to say we’ve changed a lot in the defence.
What did you say to Slavia Prague’s goalkeeper after the game last week?
First of all I saw the clip [of Kemar Roofe’s tackle]. It looked horrible. Luckily he was good before the game. There’s always a special relationship with goalkeepers because at the end of the day we are one team. I asked him how his face was, his head, and everything. He said he was fine. Of course we want to win the game but that tackle looked horrible against him. Thankfully he’s good and he still is with his head injury. It could have been a serious injury. But tomorrow is game day and it’s not about that. He’s good, so everything’s fine.
What have you made of Slavia Prague?
Very tough. Like you said they have beaten good teams in the competition. We dominated them in our home game but you could also see that they are very dangerous on counter-attacks, on set-pieces. We know what to expect and it will be a very tough game, especially away. But we also know that it’s a dangerous result for both teams. Once we score one goal, they are under big pressure. This should be our target: to score the first goal and then with a second goal we can almost finish the game because they’ll have to score three goals. There’s only one way, which is to go through. Nothing else.
Are you keeping a close eye on the German national team manager rumours?
Of course I read a lot of the stuff in the German press. I don’t know who will be the new manager after the Euros. I think there are so many rumours, a lot of discussions and I think the people in the German FA still don’t know who will be the manager. But I think as a player, or as a part of the squad, our job is to focus on the Euros. Joachim Low is still in charge and still doing a good job. I don’t think it’s fair to talk about other managers from Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Leipzig or wherever else. This is not our job, it’s your job!
When you look at some of the mistakes that go on in front of you what do you think?
I saw the situation with Son and Lloris. Of course we did some mistakes but in some situations you have to have a feeling how to behave in front of our teammates. As a player, when you do a mistake I don’t see the point in going to my team-mate to blame him or to do something else. In some situations, when we make easy or sloppy mistakes, maybe you have to build the confidence again, to be positive to him. It’s not a mistake through laziness or something like this, you have to build confidence. We don’t have the type of team where we destroy ourselves. We have to be positive, to show positive body language. This is also my mindset: to be positive, to have a positive attitude and create a positive atmosphere on the pitch. I couldn’t see any situations where we would be fighting in the game or something like this. Every situation is different but most of the time I don’t see the point in creating a fight on the pitch or in the dressing room.
Do you feel that you’ve let Mikel Arteta down as a team?
I don’t think so. Because we are all together, it’s not about the manager or the team or somebody else. We’re all in this all together. Mikel does a great job, the team is fighting for him, for themselves, for the club, for the fans, and we also want the best for ourselves. You can see that all the time, that the team is fighting. Our performances in the last couple of weeks, the results were not the best but you cannot change it. We have to look forward and there are still a lot of big games to go. It starts tomorrow, then hopefully the semi-finals and the final as well. Hopefully we can finish the season with a trophy and a great result in the Premier League.
Have there been any conversations about renewing your contract?
Not yet and at the moment it’s not the time to speak about the future. I know that I still have two years left on my contract and I’m also 29. For a goalkeeper, that’s not too old. I’ve still got some years to go. I’m very happy at the club. I don’t know what will come in the future, but I’m open to everything. Maybe for a new adventure or to stay at Arsenal. Like I said, I don’t think about my future because two years is a long time. At the moment there are no conversations with the club or anything else.
How much did it mean to you to have Mikel Arteta’s faith in you last summer?
It gave me confidence but it was not a big decision because the manager and also the club said all the time that they count on me, that I am the No 1 and will be the No 1. It doesn’t matter what happened. Even if they expected it would have been a bigger injury, they told me to be calm and that they build around me so not to worry. That’s always a good sign from the club, that they can rely on you. It gave me a lot of confidence and I’m very thankful to the club that they helped me a lot.
How difficult was it to see the team winning the FA Cup final and not being able to play?
It was very disappointing for me to have the injury at this time. You cannot expect an injury or say, ‘I do not want this injury at this time’. It was probably the worst moment of the season for me. But I was happy for the team because winning a trophy is always good for the squad, for the fans as well and also for ourselves because we wanted to play in Europe. We qualified for the Europa League through the FA Cup so it was also important for my future, for our future. It gives me a lot of motivation to play another final, especially in Europe which will be very special. In our team, there are not too many players who played a European final or won a European trophy, so it’s even more motivation for us.
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Where does he rank among the young players you’ve seen?
There’s nothing to say. His performances are incredible. He’s a top player and he has a top mentality. I think it’s very unusual for a young player like him because he’s very professional. He feels older than he is because he’s almost leading the team. This is a very good sign. I’m pretty sure he will become a world-class player. We are very happy to have him because this season – I don’t know if he’s the best – he’s been one of the best players.