In the first half we didn’t defend well and we didn’t defend well because the ball went from back to front too comfortably, too cleanly for Arsenal. More than the avoidable or not avoidable goals. I think that we would have defended better or we would have defended well if we had stopped the influence of number eight and number 34. I prepared the team to avoid this happening.
Clearly, the opposing manager prepared well his team to avoid us from achieving this. This was because each manager resolved the situation in front of them in a different manner. In the first half we lost 3-0 and in the second half we won 2-1.
We aspired to come back from 4-0, especially when the fourth goal was at the start of the second half which is a big blow to the mood of the team. I value a lot the way we played in the second half. I think we could have scored a third goal. I don’t know if we would have deserved to draw if we had managed to score the third goal. The victory for Arsenal was fair. But we were 4-2 and we had two or three options to make it 4-3. This would have made us hope that we could draw the game.
I like to work with the players that Leeds possess. I like the structure that Leeds has with the directors and the academy and I value the support of the president to help with the infrastructure and the commodity of the first-team. It's a team that could easily play with 40,000 or 50,000 fans if they are accommodated and they are fans who are unconditional. All of this makes Leeds an attractive team. And of course it's in the best league in the world
What was your reasoning for choosing Struijk as your defensive midfielder rather than someone like Klich or Dallas?
For me one of the most difficult things to neutralise from the opponents was how their two defensive midfielder play. You watch closely in the first half, one of the biggest things for us was that we didn't manage to control Xhaka and Ceballos. In front of them Odegaard played, who is an offensive player.
If Klich or Dallas had played against Odegaard before the game, neither Dallas nor Klich are defensive midfielders and Pascal can play in this position. In our team the defensive midfielder is the third defender. In our team, the two centre-backs and the defensive midfielder are the ones that defend the most.
If I had interpreted that Klich or Dallas was our third most defensive player I think we would have had even more problems than we did. I think the biggest issue that we had was that we were not able to neutralise the circulation between the two centre-backs and the two centre-mids in the first half.
We evaluated the first half but the second half was the same but in reverse.
YOu said the opposite happened in the second half with regard to resolving the press. What did you do better or differently to allow the game to change?
It’s what I just explained. In the first half, our circulation was interrupted and we couldn't bring the ball into the opposition's half in conditions to give fluidity to the attack. In the first half we didn't manage to recover as frequently. What we didn't do well in the first half, the opponent did well. In the second half we managed to do these things better than the opponent.
There were 8,000 Leeds fans the last time you were here. After so many games behind closed doors, have you developed a theory upon whether some players play better in empty stadiums or play worse because there's no fans or energy that they get from fans?
The absence of fans, I don’t assign any positives consequences to it. But perhaps there is analysis or statistics that offer conclusions that some things may be better. The absence of fans can be valued in a positive light, when there is less pressure, the players are less inhibited, they are more daring. First of all, I don't know if this is true. If this is true, then I still think we lose a lot more with the fans not here.
When do you expect Phillips to be available and what was the problem with Mateusz Klich that you referred to?
Phillips' return is subject to his evolution from his injury. And Klich had a slight problem in his hip.
Niall Huggins got a debut today. Difficult circumstances for him to come on and makes his debut, but how do you think he did and what does he bring for you?
The absences of Kalvin, Koch, Llorente, Poveda, Moreno, we are prepared to resolve them. I insist that Pascal, Ayling and Shackleton resolved well with these absences.
It's very difficult and unfair on a young player like Niall to come into the game in these circumstances where we're losing 4-0 and to participate in trying to get us back into the game. Had a balanced game. He didn't shine, but did not do anything bad either.
What was the problem with Mateusz Klich and also when do you expect Kalvin Phillips to be back because clearly he's a big miss for you too?
I think Pascal played a good game today. Shackleton’s first half as a full-back was secure as a full-back. Ayling as a centre-back globally made good responses. Of course all teams have absences and not being able to count on Phillips is a disadvantage but I don't think it was this that unbalanced the game.
How do you explain the difference in performance in each half?
In the first half we didn’t manage to break the circulation Arsenal from their half to our half. When we were building up from the back we didn't manage to take the ball from our half into their half cleanly. There was no surprise for either of the two managers. They knew how we were going to press and they resolved this. We knew how they would press us but we didn't manage to resolve this. In the second half, the opposite happened.
I have to mention that Klich played whilst not being at 100 per cent. It was an act of generosity from his part. It was another difficulty we had to endure throughout the first half. I value a lot that he sacrificed himself to be able to start this game.