As we come to the end of this season would you say you are further along the line in terms of progress in your vision for the club or has this year been a step backwards?
Well if you are saying it’s a step back because we haven’t won a title, then it has to be related. In the league we have two more points than last season, but it’s nowhere near where we want to be. The fact that we don’t have a title so close to grab because we’re not in the Europa League final makes it difficult to see more positives, but we were knocked out in the last-16 of the Europa League last season.
There are a lot of things have been done that were very necessary in this season that are not related to results. But at the end of the day, we are here to win.
Are you hopeful now that Daniel Ek has had a bid rejected that the issue can be parked and that the club can just focus on what it needs to do to progress?
I really hope so because I think we’ve been very clear on where the owners are standing. I think I’ve been clear to give my view on the situation. And just for the benefit of the club, which I think is the only interest that everybody who supports really the club should be aiming for, is to get the unity and the togetherness that we need to be back where we want. That’s all.
Is Joe Willock part of your long term plans and do you see him coming back and playing a part next season?
Yes, and I’m really happy that things have gone so well for him because of the potential that Joe has. I think it was great for him to go away and have a different experience. He has grabbed that opportunity in a really remarkable and positive way. He will be back with us, we will have those conversations with him and plan the next years for him.
What sort of atmosphere are you expecting at the Emirates when fans return on Sunday?
That they haven’t been at the stadium for a long time. We haven’t been able to be together. So hopefully there will be a positive atmosphere and they can support the team and the team can bring them some joy and try to win the game.
How much do you think fans will be determined to see Arsenal finish above Spurs to give them something to shout about?
Anything that is in our hands to make them happy and to help us to be in a better place than we are today is all positive.
Have you seen the table over the last 23 games of the league which has you in second? Considering your start that’s quite good isn’t it?
Yes, it is very good but the league is played over 38 games. But at least it shows that we are able to do it. When we have a little bit more of a normal context, more normal situations, I am very positive about what we can do. At the end of the day we are judged on what we have done over the whole season and it is not, for sure, where we want to be.
When you look back it was that period in November that really has cost you isn’t it?
Yes. It’s a lot of things from September to December that are contributing to that. I don’t believe it was just one issue. There were a lot of things in that period.
Will those issues be back next season or will they be eliminated for good?
*Tut* (Implying they have been eliminated)
You sound like you know what the issue was back then.
Well this is my job. To identify to be very critical with myself first and to try to find why. Whether it’s negative or positive. So if it’s positive let’s keep doing a lot of the good things we are doing.
Just to confirm Joe Willock is definitely going to be here next season?
Well for sure because he’s got a contract and he’s going to be here. So that’s for sure
He’s put a few extra pounds on his transfer fee with all his goals hasn’t he?
And he got the responsibility and the task to go to Newcastle to help them go where they want. I’m telling you that I spoke with the coaching staff and they are extremely happy because he was a key part in contributing to get the objectives that they had. So that’s a real positive for him.
Will Sunday be HectorBellerin’slast game at the Emirates or do you hope he stays?
Hector is not fit so he won’t be there playing the last game. Like everybody that has a contract he remains here.
It’s going to be Sergio Aguero’s last game on Sunday for Manchester City. Can you give us a summary of how good he was from your time working with him?
It was an absolute joy to work with him. His character, his personality, he’s a loveable man. One of the best talents that I’ve seen. What he’s done in this league for so long, scoring the amount of goals that he’s done. I think he was a player that contributed to change the perception of English football in different countries.
What he’s done for Manchester City, I think he was a big contributor of changing the history, the mentality and the winning years that they had after that.
What do you make of the Europa Conference League
Well, it’s a new competition so I don’t know really well what will happen. First of all, let’s try to finish as high as possible and after we will determine, if we are involved, what is the best way to deal with it.
It’s been looked down upon by people who say do we need a third European competition?
Well we have experienced in the last few years how tough being in the Europa League is with the amount of games that we play and the short turnaround that you have in the Premier League. I think there is a lot of history there with teams that have been involved in the Europa League, the negative consequences that has in the Premier League positions.
But we try to give it the best possible go, we came a little bit short. But this club has to be in Europe
How difficult is your team selection on Sunday when balancing between building for the future and having a few players saying goodbye?
The team selection is just the best possible selection to win the game. What is going to happen afterwards is part of the future. What we have to control is what happens on the day.
Do you have a lot of difficult conversations coming up with players like Eddie Nketiah
Well, we have a lot of conversations that have already happened and some more that will happen. Difficult or not, we have to face them and we have to be able to tell each other what our feelings are and try to make the right decisions.
Is finishing 7th, 8thor 9thgood enough for Arsenal?
So this is a season of underachievement?
It’s not where we want to be.
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Are you going to be able to get away this summer and spend time with the family or will that be difficult with the Euros on?
You have to find the balance. There is a lot of work to do, a lot of reflection to do and a lot of decisions to be made. It will take time to do that. But at the same time as well, you have to disconnect. It’s been almost two years with no break and they (our families) deserve some time with us and I think our bodies and minds need a rest to be more efficient and have more clarity in our vision.
Which flag will you have out this summer, the Spanish one or the English one?
I would have both! And as well, I’ll be supporting a lot of the players that we have, who will be representing their countries. We want the best for them.