QUOTE SHEET: Arsenal, Red Bulls discuss the New York Cup post-match
New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry
On the ovation and support he received from the crowd
It was great. I think the fans obviously enjoyed it. Like I said before, it wasn’t the most important thing to win the game but, at the end of the day, we won it. Like I said, now our focus is on [Real] Salt Lake. The distraction is out of the way now and let’s us concentrate on Salt Lake because it will be a different type of game.
On if he was emotional before or during the game
No, not really. Like I said to you, it was amazing to see all the fans give me a standing ovation when I came out. I just went on the bench and watched the end of the game.
On the tifo the South Ward put up during player introductions
Oh, it was amazing. I didn’t know about it and I was actually surprised. It was pretty cool, to be honest. Like I said to you, I don’t want to play down what happened today, or whatever, it’s a friendly game. They’re in preseason. Like I said before the game and to the guys in the dressing room before the game, let’s give [Arsenal] a good game. They haven’t come [to America] in 25 years. At least if they know they’re playing a MLS team that it can be a good game, you know, and hopefully that’s what we did.
On if he was surprised to see so many Arsenal fans
No, I knew that. I said at the press conference the other day, you know, that it was nice to see the stadium full like it was. For me, from a personal point of view, they were kind of all Arsenal fans or Red Bulls fans so it was the best of both worlds for me. No, I wasn’t surprised. I knew they were going to come from everywhere because it wasn’t only people coming from New York that came to support Arsenal. Through some of the stuff I’ve done with PUMA and Arsenal in the past two or three days, I met people from all over the U.S. I knew they were going to come in numbers.
On if any of the young Arsenal players impressed him
No, you know, I didn’t think about all of that. It was a special moment for me but it was more important for me that [Red Bulls forward] Andre Akpan could play against Arsenal and [Red Bulls midfielders] Ruben Bover [and Mike] Bustamante and all the guys we have that sometimes don’t play a lot in the league. It’s not always that you can play against Arsenal in New York. So that was where my mind was at one point, you know, we did what we had to do in the first half and some of the guys came on in the second half to keep the one-nil lead we had and that’s what we did.
On [Red Bulls left back/mid] Ambroise Oyongo’s performance today
He played well, he played really well. With Ambroise, he will give you what he has. Whatever the position that he’s playing. He did extremely well playing left back but you can’t also say that Roy [Miller] wasn’t playing well before he left to go to the World Cup. He got injured, obviously, as well. Ambroise, I guess, gave some problems to the boss to think about because he played well today.
New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke
On the match:
It’s one of those things that I’m sure if we lose, we were supposed to because it’s Arsenal, if we won, [people would say] I’m sure they’re out of shape and it’s leading in [to the season]. They’re one of the best clubs in the world. At the end of the day, talked about it in the press conference, this really means nothing more than a good victory, a good thing for the supporters because it’s not three points, it doesn’t mean anything in our standings. There was some very good play for us, especially in the first half on our counter. This is one of the best passing teams in the world and we were patient and sat back and looked to counter and exploit and we did some good things. It was good to see some things that we need to improve on that we did well today. For me, it’s a positive for the players, now it’s onto Salt Lake City Wednesday.
On what the team will take away from the match and Ambroise Oyongo:
Listen, Oyongo is a player within the next two years that big things can happen for him, globally. He’s a phenomenal young talent that seems to be improving on a weekend basis, so it was good to see him, took an experiment, put him on the left midfield, and he did very well with it. If you look at it, we’re at home at Red Bull Arena and it was almost an away match today, a lot of Arsenal supporters, so we wanted to play this game a bit like we’re going to approach [Real] Salt Lake on the road, which is a good shape, sitting in and look to counter a little bit, and when it opens up hopefully we have some good possession and I think that’s a good thing to see today leading into Salt Lake.
On Thierry Henry:
Thierry is Thierry, you know? He opens up so much space for everybody. His first step, I mean he’s playing against younger players, big time players Arsenal players and his first step is bringing it ahead of them. He still has it. His vision, unbelievable, his ability to create space and get open, all the things that are no secret, I’m just repeating what everybody in soccer already knows. He’s one of the best players to ever play and he still has it.
On what he told Bradley Wright-Phillips after his goal:
I told him I brought him off at halftime because he’s one of the guys that we identified that has been putting a lot of minutes in, obviously, and the work he does, he has some tired legs. He scored his goal and I told him I probably would’ve left him on if he didn’t score because I want him to continue doing that to get the confidence. As far as his dad goes, I don’t know who his dad was rooting for today, but I’m sure he’s happy his son scored.
On Thierry Henry still playing at a high level:
Personally, absolutely. Do I think he can play for 90 minutes in the Premier League every week? I’m sure he would agree, probably not, but he still is 100 percent at that level, mentally and physically for large chunks of games, absolutely.
Obviously they’re early in preseason. Are we a better team than Arsenal? When they’re in their peak and we’re at our peak, I’d like to think it would be a good game, but obviously what kind of club they are and the level of talent, the money they put into that, they’re a world-class club. We knew they were going to have bulks of possession and we were fine with that. I enjoy watching them play. The biggest thing that I enjoy watching out of Arsenal, no matter if it’s a preseason game or regular season game, is their off ball movement and their ability to create space to possess that ball is something that I would love to climb into Mr. [Arsene] Wenger’s head and figure out exactly how he does it. It’s impressive.
On the team making strides in a friendly match:
Yeah, I mean it all comes down to if we go out Wednesday in Salt Lake and don’t have the same mentality we had today, don’t have the same spark, I guess you can say, and we have no one to blame but ourselves, look in the mirror. It honestly amazes me how we could come out with this mentality and stick to a game plan even at times when it’s not pretty at certain times, but as long as we’re organized and behind the ball, whereas a couple of games this year at home it’s like we need to play an Arsenal or a Barcelona and guys are like, oh we’re playing a big team now and really get up for it and put the ball in, that’s the biggest challenge.
On Ambroise Oyongo:
Like I said before, Oyongo is – if he continues to learn, continues to be willing to learn and keeps grounded I think in the next two years he is going to be a big name, that’s my opinion.
New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill
On the 1-0 win against Arsenal
I thought it was a good match. They’re a great team, great players, I think for us it was a good test because they tested our defense and the way we play and we kept the ball really well. It was good to play against some of our friends and have some good battles like we did back in the old days.
On playing against friend and former teammate Mikel Arteta
I love him, he’s one of my best mates, he’s like a brother and I’ve missed him for awhile now so it was nice to put a little bit of pressure on him on the pitch and have a little bit of a laugh at the same time. That’s what it’s all about, that’s what I said to the guys inside. Be ready for a contest because they have world class players and their not going to take it lightly. They’ve got pride in their badge and who they play for, it was just really nice to get that competitive edge today and come out on top as well.
On engaging in challenges and battles with Arteta
He knows what I’m all about. I went into the changing room with all the boys and straight away the manager, Arsene Wenger, said don’t ever change. Never change because that’s what I like about you. He’s one of the best managers in the world and for me just shaking his hand was great, but speaking and sharing a few words was special. It felt good and really happy to come out on top because it means a lot to the New York Red Bull fans, regardless if it was a friendly. For me there are no friendlies and there never will be. You can see that in the way I play. Overall, it’s nice for our fans because they deserve a bit of praise for sticking by us all season.
On defending a high-powered attack
It’s simple, for us we didn’t want to concede because obviously they had a very good attack. You see when Jack Wilshere picks up the ball, or Rosicky, or Ramsey, when they run at you and they start going in their droves and making angles, you have to stop that. Because of the one-two and Jack got in and Luis (Robles) made a great save, so I was saying we can’t let that happen again. Defensively we were better, the defense came out and really pressed. Overall, getting the goal in the end was a good reward, Luis played really well and it’s a good team performance. It was a special occasion for Thierry, Arsenal and the Red Bulls and it’s a good result for MLS as well.
On how to build off of result
For us, it’s a bit of confidence. It was a friendly game and we have to take the same confidence and try and play the same way as we did today. It’s a bit different because I think Salt Lake will press a bit high in the humidity and the altitude play a part, but for us we’ve been very unlucky conceding some not normal goals, but I think a lot of questions would’ve been asked if we had gone down seven-nil like some other teams have done against premier league teams. Today we had a good show of ourselves, we pleased the fans and they had a great time and so did we.
On emergence of Ambroise Ayongo
He’s a great player, we’ve been focusing a lot on him and having a complete performance, taking away the mistakes, and the more he takes out of his game the better he can become even though he’s one of our shining players at the moment. I’m really happy for him because he’s a kid that wants to learn, when he very first come in in the preseason he was the guy in the gym I could always see early in the morning. Sometimes you think is it going to last? It’s lasted with him, he gets it and he’s working hard.
On what friendlies against big clubs can do for younger players
It shows them what football is all about. Those are some of the best players in the world, a massive team. For us it’s all about testing your wits against the best. So it was definitely nice having a taste again and it definitely wets your appetite.
New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips
On the 1-0 win against Arsenal
It was good, I think Arsenal, obviously it’s just their second game and they’re getting their fitness. We showed them what MLS is about. I think we done well.
On taking positives from result into Wednesday night fixture at Real Salt Lake
Well I don’t know right now but I’m sure we’ll want to take some positives from the game and try to bring them into the game at Salt Lake.
On his goal
Usually it’s Tim, but I like it when someone good in the air goes to the back post, I just like to get in and around the box in case they header it down. I’ve done it many times and it hasn’t come off, this time it did.
On the tifo and ovation for Thierry Henry
It’s good, when you work that hard to be the player that he’s become and still is, I think you deserve things like that from both sets of fans, it was quality.
On turnout of Arsenal fans
I was surprised in the beginning and I was a bit upset, I want these guys to be coming every week. Thierry plays every week and if they love Arsenal that much they should try and come more.
Arsenal FC Manager Arsène Wenger
On facing Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry
I think it was a great afternoon for him, you know, he played well and his teammates played very well as well. You could see that everybody was focused [and] ready for a fight. If they can maintain that kind of commitment and solidarity, and if they can keep Thierry Henry, in this form, I think they have a good chance to come back in a strong position in [MLS].
On what Arsenal learned from last year’s title race that they can use this season
We know that we were not far, that it was very tight. We wanted to add that little bit of quality but we missed in the end. It depends on one or two games at the end of the day. 38 games [and] we finished with 79 [points]. We know that the champions had 86. It was very tight and hopefully we can get that little bit more quality in the decisive games. We were more consistent than everybody else against lower teams [but] performed less against top-level teams, so that’s what we have to gain.
On how impressed with Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips’ finish and goal
Well, he was dangerous throughout the game because in the first half Thierry Henry dropped off and [Wright-Phillips] made some good runs that Thierry could find him behind our defenders, you know. We had a very experimental defense today and he was very dangerous.
On some of the young players’ performances and if they will stay at Arsenal or go on loan
It’s too early to say that, you know. It’s our first game. I believe that, physically, it was too high a level for us for our first game. Some of the players came back last Monday and they had to play today a game that was physically a bit of too high a level. It was not ideal but we got away without an injury. The bad thing is that we couldn’t score and that we lost the game. The good thing is that we gained something out of it physically and that there was no injury.
On playing without a no. 9 today and how it affected the team
No, no, that’s just the fact that we have no [Olivier] Giroud, no [Theo] Walcott, no [Alexis] Sanchez, and no [Lukas] Podolski. Okpom, yeah he did well, of course. He’s a young boy [and] he has to learn a lot still, but he has potential. I felt as long as we don’t score, it’s not good. It can happen where you play with three number nines and you don’t score. Today we were dominated physically in the first half. We came back in the last 10 minutes but [Luis Robles] made a few saves in the first half and our combination was better. Of course, we lacked a bit of pace without any center forward.
On what he was thinking when Thierry Henry stepped up to take the corner kick that led to the goal
Thierry can be dangerous from everywhere. He understands very quickly what he can take advantage from. He was sharp today as well in the one-on-ones and you could see why he was a great player because when played in midfield, his passing was excellent and his vision as well. You could see that he can play everywhere.
On the sporting value of the game and coming to New York
Look, for us it was a great experience. Everybody enjoyed it [and] nobody wants to go home. It was a short trip but a very exciting trip because New York is a special city. What was most special is how popular football is now [in America] and the values that we stand for, I think they are shared for. Everybody was very friendly and, I think, everybody respects what we try to do. One of the values we have to stand up as well is when the opponent is better than us, we have to say ‘well done’ and today that was the case.
On how long he’s tracked potential acquisition Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina
I’ve known him for a long time because he played for [French Ligue 1 club] Nice. He went to Nice a few years ago and slowly became a very important player at Nice. You see he has the quality because [France national team goalkeeper] Huge Lloris played at Nice before him and when he went to [French Ligue 1 club] Lyon, they played Ospina. He straight away had a big impact and Lloris is not an easy player to replace. I felt that he did very well at the World Cup. I decided, we had three or four candidates, at the World Cup.
On why Arsenal forward Yaya Sanogo didn’t travel with the team
Sanogo didn’t come because he had a little thigh problem. We didn’t want to take a gamble
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere
On playing against Thierry Henry
Yeah, I grew up supporting the club, watching him score week in week out. He's the club record goal scorer, he's a special player and you can tell today even though he may have lost a little bit of pace he still has the skill and the ability to open up defenses.
On advice he has given to Gedion Zalelem about the pressure of expectations he has from U.S. fans
He's a great kid, and the main thing is he is willing to learn, to listen, he's respectful. He talks to us and ask questions about what he thinks he should be doing. And the main thing is his ability, that's the key thing with him. He's got so much ability he can be what he wants. He has to get a little bit stronger but that ability will take him through.
On if Zalelem will be with the first team this year
Yeah. He's going to be in and around it. He was in and around it last year, he made his debut. He's still really young so you have to give him a chance to develop physically and he is going to be training with players of high quality every week, so he's only going to improve.
On Red Bull Arena
It's a great stadium. It's very similar to the Emirates, even though it's a bit smaller, it's new and it looks nice.
On what he has seen from Zalelem when playing with him
The main thing is his talent. He has just got so much natural ability and if he can just work on it, and keep working and have the right attitude towards the game. Naturally he is going to grow physically and become stronger and playing with great players he's only going to improve.
On if he thought Zalelem was excited to play in the U.S.
Yeah, he's from the States and it's always nice coming back to your homer country and playing. I think, as well, that he just enjoys it. He's just one of those kids who enjoys to play football and just wants to get out there and do his thing. He played on the right wing today, which is probably not his strongest position, but he did the job that the manager asked him to play. So he's learning to positions as well.
On if he was surprised by the turnout of Arsenal fans for the game No, not really, it's been great all week. They have been outside of our hotel and training as well. It's been a great atmosphere all week and we are glad we came over
Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zalelem
On the feeling the anticipation of playing in the U.S.
Yeah, of course. We were at the event the other day. A lot of support from the fans, so yeah, it was good.
On playing his first game in the U.S.
It was really nice, I haven't been to New York before, so coming here was really nice. New York is a really nice city
On his U.S. experience so far
Yeah, Eli Manning was really nice. Seeing the Giants play was really nice as well.
On where he stands with his citizenship
At the moment I'm just trying to break into the first team with Arsenal and I really have more football to play, so at the moment I'm just trying to play football at Arsenal. No decision has been made
On if he has spoken to Jurgen Klinsmann
We've talked on the phone a few times, but nothing advanced.
On how Klinsmann's usage of young players and seeing Germany win the World Cup has effected your decision
They're both great countries. The U.S. is on the rise, Germany's already a great country. So, whichever country I choose, it will be a good choice.
On playing against Thierry Henry
Another dream come true. I watched him when he was at Arsenal. To play with him tonight was great.