One of your biggest wins as Arsenal manager?
Well it was a great one. Winning at the end against a really good team, who – once they are ahead – are extremely difficult to beat them. I think they haven’t lost a game after going ahead since 2018, but we kept pushing. I think the attitude, the spirit, the quality the energy that the players put in, in the second-half again. To fight, to go and win the match was phenomenal. It created a great atmosphere and synergy with our fans, and it was great to win it that way.
Thoughts on Lacazette’s late winner?
That’s what we need as a team, and now we are building a team with a lot of young talent and a lot of new players, they live those experiences. I said to them at half-time: “If you want to be at the top by the end of May, we are going to have to overturn results maybe two, three or four more times, and today is an opportunity.” I am especially happy when a player individually makes an error that costs a goal, that then the team can put that aside and win the match, and never even talk about it.
Thoughts on the players’ celebrations?
And I encouraged them to celebrate every victory. Because you can tell how difficult it is in this game to win football matches. Our supporters are the same, every time we win we should celebrate because when you lose or draw you know the faces are always [sad].
Update on Tomiyasu’s injury?
Yes, it was the other calf. So he came back and he was completely fine, and in training he felt the other calf. So this in an issue because he’s a professional, who is giving absolutely everything to help us, and in the last few months he’s not been fit.
Top four hopes?
It pulled us a little bit closer. One game less and three points. 13 games to go, and now it’s about Watford. I think it’s about belief, that we should keep playing the way that we are playing – and keep insisting – and have that resilience and that capacity to dominate matches like we are doing right now…and then that’s the energy and (synergy) with our fans to create a special atmosphere. Where people don’t want to come and play against Arsenal.
Was tonight a defining night in your season?
Well against the opponents that are up there in the table, it’s really, really important to win those matches, because at the end of the day it’s a six-point match. We’ve done it against them twice in the last 13 or 14 days and it is really important. This race is going to be a long one, and we should know that we have to be conscious of that. Now we have to prepare again, forget what we’ve done and start training and focus on Watford now.
Importance of this result for getting in the top four?
We don’t know because we are not there yet. When we are there I will tell you how important it is. Today what is important is that we focus on playing better, maintain that capacity as a team to dominate and take the game where we want, and that’s what I want from everybody involved, especially the subs because today I think they were magnificent. There are some good examples for them to use tomorrow and we will keep going.
How impressed were you with Pepe’s impact?
I told you last week, I see a different Nico. I don’t know, it’s his energy, his happiness, his all-round play, how he’s training, I was convinced that he could come in and do something for the team.
Thoughts on Lacazette’s performance?
When I see our striker in the 85th minute, chasing a full-back in the corner flag, winning the ball back, playing, going, fighting, missing one chance, missing two chances, going again. What can I do? I can only praise him and try to help him as much as possible and give him support. At the end he got the reward. For me, it’s Lacazette’s goal.
Where is the resilience coming from?
I think for the environment and the chemistry and the trust that they have between them, they believe in themselves, they believe in their teammates, the staff, the coaching and the club. When that happens they know, and they try to find a way always to look forward in a positive way to het the outcome that they want and this is what it’s all about.
Has the current situation in Ukraine made it hard to focus on football?
That was difficult, to be fair. I spoke to the players about that before the game. Life changes in a moment and you don’t expect anything. It can affect you, it can affect your family and it can affect anyone in this world. We are extremely lucky to do what we do, but we don’t know when, so we have to go out there and play like tomorrow we maybe don’t have it. That uncertainty has to give us an understanding of how lucky we are to do what we do.
Can Pepe become a regular in the team now?
He’s on the right path and when you’re able to do that and contribute to the team, you’re going to get more minutes. The more minutes you have, you need to make the most out of them in training every single day and show what you can do. He has the ability to do it, that’s for sure.