Sánchez Flores: “They Showed Me They Are Strong”
By Kevin Affleck
Quique Sánchez Flores admitted it was not part of the script to have a whopping 31 shots at goal but that his team just surfed the wave of emotion at Vicarage Road and threw the kitchen sink at Arsenal.
The Head Coach released the handbrake at half-time with his team staring down the barrel and the upshot was a thrilling second half and the most shots the Gunners have faced since the 2003/04 season and possibly even longer.
"We had to care about the defence this week and we didn't prepare to have 31 attempts at goal," said Sánchez Flores. "It just happened. We just kept switching the play in the second half and this is how it happened. Sometimes this is possible."
Sánchez Flores has a reputation as a defensive coach but that went out of the window at half-time when he let his team go for broke, then chucking on Ismaïla Sarr and Roberto Pereyra. What on earth did he say at the break?
"I reminded them about how we played in the first 15-20 minutes," he said. "I said, 'We can go again'. We had to be aware of the details on the counter-attack. We try to avoid these situations. It was a different match in the second. We lost the first one 2-0, but it was a new match in the second half and we tried to win. Finally this is okay for us."
The Head Coach desperately wanted the team to get their noses in front but had to change tact after his team went one and then two goals behind. The script went out the window and then it was down to his man-management skills.
"It was difficult to recover after the first goal," he said. "It was in our brain that we were playing well so the players were a little bit down. We had to recuperate the memory of what happened before the goal and I was happy with the reaction in the second-half. They showed me they are strong and it was very difficult to do what we did against Arsenal. The most important thing is we had a good experience and we know we are able to do it."
All points are equal but this one felt more in terms of giving everybody a lift, especially in the thrilling manner it was a achieved.
"Arsenal are a very good team so to get one point against them is really good," he said. "We played well in the first 20- 25 minutes. I said to the players at half-time to try and win the second-half and see if we can make a difference. I think the reaction of the players was the most important thing. It's easy to be down when you are losing 2-0 to a team as good as Arsenal. But we never gave up and we tried to keep the energy. In the second half we played really well."