Congratulations! Where has this performance been all season?
Well really happy. We came into a tough place this team hasn’t lost at home in almost two years. So, to do what we’ve done tonight credit to the players for how they approached the game and how brave they were in our approach. And then I think when we demand from them efficiency, today is a good example of the level of efficiency you need to win matches in Europe away from home like this.
It was an incredible first half with those three goals in six minutes?
Yeah absolutely. Not only that I think the reaction. The moment Emile [Smith Rowe] scored the goal and the goal was disallowed the team straight away reacted and they wanted more. Again we were really efficient in our high press we wanted more, we put them under more pressure and then when we had to make decisions in the final third we were really clinical.
Are you looking forward to meeting your predecessor Unai Emery in the semis?
Yes, it will be a tough game. Villarreal are a top side and Unai is the most successful manager in this competition. So, we know. Enjoy tonight, we’re going to have time to prepare that one and no time to prepare Fulham on Sunday and this is where we are.
Congratulations on the win. Given the circumstances and what was at stake would you say this is your best performance so far?
I don’t know it was one of the most important games. We know how important the competition is for the club, for ourselves and for the fans. Today we brought a difficult result back from the Emirates because we weren’t that efficient on the day. And today we showed completely the opposite resilience in the opponents’ box when we had the momentum and the opportunity in the game to kill it.
When the players took the knee were the players keen to make a point and is this something they discussed before?
Yeah, they asked me and the club that they wanted to take that initiative and they had the right reasons for it so the club was very supportive. I was supportive. Thankfully the referees and UEFA as well they’ve been supportive so it was a great gesture.
Is Aubameyang still in hospital?
We just spoke with him he’s at home he’s fine. He’s completely fine at the moment. He had two days in hospital to get the right treatment but he’s feeling good now.
When do you expect him to be back?
Well see how he recovers. I think he will need a few days to recover from that. He wants to back as soon as possible that’s what he said to me.
Emile Smith Rowe andBukayoSakareallystood out tonight. How much does it mean to see two youngsters from Hale End running the show?
For me it’s a joy to watch them play to watch them every day in training, how they behave, the passion, the commitment they have for the club and then how much they like to play football. You have to let them express and then you have to give them certain work frames to work and some ideas of how they can exploit their qualities. Then it’s up to them and I thought both of them were really good today.
How easy is it for them to have someone like Laca in front of them?
I think that’s when you start to create cohesion and understanding between players that players have to make each other better. That’s a big quality. You need somebody at the back to make those players better and to get those surroundings and the collective understanding the way it should be.
The same happened with the backline. I think today we looked really solid. I don’t think we conceded a shot on target. That’s merit from a little bit of continuity as well and a little bit of help and understanding in these moments.
When did you find out about Aubameyang having malaria? Did he play the first leg knowing he had it?
No, when he wasn’t involved against Sheffield [United] the two days before he wasn’t feeling good but nobody could expect that that would be the case. The doc some did more tests and some more analytics and that’s when it came on. That’s why straight away the doc realised very quickly what had to be done and they did a great job and he’s safe and he’s feeling good.
Could it be a little while before he makes a recovery?
Hopefully not because he feels really good that’s what he said to me today and he wants to be back. But I don’t know if the treatment is efficient it shouldn’t take too long.
Did you speak to him after the match?
No, no I came straight to you guys so I haven’t had the chance. But the doctor was on the phone with him now and he just mentioned that he was at home and he was feeling good.
Was that win a get well soon present for him?
Well everybody has been in contact with him. He’s been really supportive with teammates through messages and calls. He was watching the game like everybody else at Colney like David [Luiz], Martin [Odegaard] and Kieran [Tierney] and everybody that is not being able to be involved and is being missed here. But it’s what it is these things happen. He travelled to his country and he picked it up and you know that this risk always exists.
Why do you think it is that your team tends to do so well in cup competitions?
I don’t know we haven’t won it yet. We are only in the semi-finals, but they really want it. We feel that we have a good chance. The players really believe that we can do it and that’s the most important thing because that’s what really pushes you and drives you and makes you play the way we did tonight. Let’s see how far. There’s still some important teams. Villarreal is going to be a tough opponent so let’s go step by step.
Is the fluency we saw tonight what you’re trying to achieve?
Absolutely and that’s the way we are going to approach the next game that’s for sure. Not only that but with our aggressiveness and where we want to press that ball and where we want to play with our line and play with our opponents as much as possible. When we do that with the players that we have up front and the understanding that they are acquiring slowly we can be very dangerous and effective and that’s the way we will approach it.
Does a result like this cement that?
Yes, well it’s an important result but there are still a lot of things that we have to do better in the game. There is a huge margin in a lot of things that we are doing at the moment. But they will come.
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Could you elaborate on when the conversation on taking the knee was and who led it?
They came to me they wanted to take that initiative. We spoke with the club to make sure we could follow the rules of UEFA and we can do it in the right way. We decided to take that approach which I really like from the players. I must say that UEFA was very supportive as well.
Was it one player that come to you and suggested it?
It was the captains who came to me and asked me to do that. And I just supported them like the club did.