Unai Emery says part of the reason he took off Dani Ceballos in the second half of the 2-2 draw with Watford is because it was very hot.
The midfielder comes from basically the hottest part of Spain, so is well used to high temperatures, but the head coach insisted the team needed fresh legs during a second period in which Arsenal found themselves under more and more pressure.
The decision to withdraw the 23 year old sparked a mixed reaction from fans, and when asked why, Emery said, “Today it was very, very hot. We needed in the second half, some fresh players.
“We were struggling second half and I was thinking how we can improve with three players, fresh players, for give us more energy and give us also more capacity to be strong physically and tactically and also technically.”
Given the onslaught we faced, it was hard for youngsters Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson to stem the tide, while Lucas Torreira similarly found it difficult.
Captain Granit Xhaka said the team were ‘scared’ in the second half, and Emery was asked for his response to that observation.
“Maybe it’s a very individual feeling,” he said. “I think in football you never need to have scared, you need to take that moment as an experience for you and for us.
“But really I can feel the players, I can feel me the same, sometimes when we were struggling, the possibility to don’t achieve our good consequence with our game plan.
“But we need to be strong in our mentality, but not for the players, for us, and to create our way, working and improving the things like today that happened in the second half.”