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As one of the few Arsenal players in their 30s, Cedric Soares has revealed that he thrives off being able to encourage his inexperienced teammates.
The Gunners have the youngest squad in the Premier League and surprised many by putting up a strong fight to finish fourth last term, ultimately falling short to arch-rivals Tottenham.
The inexperience of the squad is a large talking point in the Amazon documentary series All or Nothing: Arsenal.
Cedric, 30, is one of the most experienced players in the Gunners’ ranks, and he believes that he ‘automatically’ gives his young teammates someone to learn from.
“During the season you have a lot of different moments and you need to feel the group,” the Portuguese right-back told Football365. “I think the older players do this a bit automatic. We try to encourage them, especially in bad moments.
“When you have lost and you have lots of messages saying ‘You didn’t play good’, this is a moment when they have to go out and have the same courage as before or even more. I think this is when experience can come in and try to help them.
“I think the experienced players sometimes help them on the pitch by showing them how to take a risk because when everyone is going good and you’re winning 3-0 it’s easy.
“When we had three difficult results at the start of the season and we had a game and needed to play good, this is a moment when we need everyone ready. Maybe the experienced players try to encourage the young [players] and they will learn going through these situations.”
As mentioned by Cedric, Arsenal had a difficult spell at the start of 2021/22, losing all three of their opening games against Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City, respectively.
As seen on the Amazon documentary, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta gave specific instructions on how to deal with Romelu Lukaku during half-time of the 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea.
Cedric was asked if Arteta gives his players specific instructions for the best players in the league – such as Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah.
He replied: “They (coaching staff) do very specific work. Not every game we analyse one player; we would analyse the general play of the opponent because we also need to focus on ourselves.
“When there is a player, sometimes they need this kind of attention. They will say specifically for one or two players or even for one defender how to defend the box or the individual, they will help you. On the pitch, it is your decision.”
The process of setting up cameras to record the squad throughout the entirety of a season is a strange one, and something players are not used to.
However, Cedric has said that after it being a “different” experience at the beginning, players were able to block out the filming and simply get on with playing football and preparing for matchday.
“It was definitely something different, especially in the beginning when you are not used to it so you are a bit aware in the beginning but I think during the time and during the season you end up forgetting about those cameras and if they are ten on or ten off,” he explained.
“I think it just became normal again and in the end, it was a good experience I think because I’m very curious about what is coming. I think it is something good for the club and also to learn from it. I look forward to watching it.”
On if there is a moment he is looking forward to seeing on All or Nothing: Arsenal, Cedric said: “It was a long season. There are a lot of moments, I don’t know what they cut and what was important for them.
“It was an intense season and in the end, it was a positive one. We had big moments of good momentum so it is difficult to pick one moment but I am curious to see all the good runs and also in the end how we didn’t quite achieve it [top four] because it was for us players as well a bit disappointing but we also need to understand that maybe nobody expected us to be fighting for this moment in the end.
“I am very curious to watch it all. There is not a specific moment.”
The relationship between the Arsenal fans and players/manager has been toxic in recent years, though last season felt different, with the supporters beginning to connect with the squad again.
With the relationship on the mend, Cedric believes the release of the documentary will not have a large effect on building those bridges, with the process already well underway.
He said: “I think this progress and this project has already begun. I think the fans are a lot more engaged with the team and the players are a lot more engaged with the fans as well.
“I think towards the end of the season and during the season the relationship between the fans and the players became a lot stronger. They helped us a lot in difficult moments. They lift us up and motivate us as well and I think the players try to give it back to the fans in a lot of games, try to start with a lot of energy in the games, try to motivate them as well, so I think this relationship has been improving a lot and has been very very good.”
On what he wants the fans to see and learn from the All or Nothing episodes, the 30-year-old added: “I think it’s good for the fans to understand that it isn’t an easy life. It is demanding to be a professional footballer in a lot of different ways since the beginning of your career. You can’t go to a party from a young age. There are a lot of things going on. I think they will understand a bit more this side.
“Also, it is very interesting to see the influence they have on the team in a lot of moments. I think this is great to see.
“For them to also see the inside of the club, how it works, the everyday basics, how demanding it is, how demanding the Premier League is, and the professionalism that is in football nowadays. The intensity of the game, every session that is going on. It is great.”
An interesting moment in Arsenal’s season was when Arteta had a spat on the touchline with Jurgen Klopp during the Gunners’ 4-0 Premier League loss at Anfield.
“It’s something in the game,” Cedric said when asked about the incident. “When you are coaching you are living the emotions of the game so I think this is part of the game and it will keep happening in football.
“I think it is good stuff, it is not bad. It means everyone wants to win and it is good for the sport.”
On if the incident swayed the game in Liverpool’s favour by riling up the crowd, Cedric added: “We were playing away, it is normal that it is a different atmosphere. It is much better when we play at the Emirates.
“Anfield is one of those stadiums you know the crowd will be there; you need to be prepared for it. They help their team a lot which is normal.
“As players, it is our job to go there and do what we train all week (to do). It is always difficult because they have a great team as well. It’s a sport, you can’t change it, you have to be prepared for it.”
Another massive part of the season that had a much larger knock-on effect was when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy.
There is a huge build-up to this moment in the All or Nothing trailer and opening sequence and is something viewers are looking forward to seeing.
When asked if he was disappointed in how the situation turned out, especially with the older members of the squad expected to be good role models for the younger players, Cedric admitted that Arteta has to be demanding in this sort of situation and must live by the rules he has set out.
“You said older players need to be role models. I understand what you mean, but I think we try to give the younger (players) a good image, try to encourage them to do the right things and what works for us,” he said.
“In the end, every individual will grow and take their own path. Auba was a situation that I was not quite involved in so I don’t know the details of it. I think I know more or less what you guys know.
“I was good with him. Obviously, the coach decided that it was the best thing to do because in his point of view he didn’t respect the group in a few moments.
“He needs to be demanding. If he wants to be demanding on the pitch he needs to be demanding off the pitch in a lot of stuff. We know the ideas of the coach, we know how demanding he is. In a group, there have to be rules and we have to live by them.”
You can watch All or Nothing: Arsenal on Amazon Prime Video.
Episodes 1-3 are released on Thursday, August 4.
Episodes 4-6 – Thursday, August 11.
Episodes 7-8 – Thursday, August 18.
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The article Cedric talks Klopp v Arteta, playing in a young squad and ‘good’ All or Nothing experience appeared first on Football365.com.