Mikel Arteta praised his ever-improving Arsenal team after finishing top of their Champions League qualifying group last night with a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.
The Spaniard was especially pleased at being able to go to Greece next month without any pressure. “It’s fantastic for us, with one game to go”, he said. “We didn’t want to go needing to win over there because we knew it was going to be really tough. We knew how it important it was tonight against a really tough side, who put you in trouble and press you really, really hard – and we’ve done the business.”
And his joy wasn’t confined simply to last night’s result. Having come into an Arsenal team going through its most difficult period under Arsene Wenger, he’s enjoying the fact the team have turned things around so well.
“We are really happy”, he said. “I think we are improving every game. If you talk about two months ago and the situation at the moment, we’re much improved. We’re playing with more confidence and we’re more solid, we keep scoring goals and hopefully we can keep on a good run.”
And the improvement is something Arsene Wenger noted in his post-game comments. The Gunners had a tough group and the manager was pleased his team came through the test and became the first English team to qualify for the knock-out stages.
“We were in a difficult group and I am very happy and pleased if you see where we came from. We drew Udinese in the qualifier and you could not bet that we could go like we did. Overall I am very happy because we came out from a very difficult period because we were focused, worked hard and were.
“Manchester United could have qualified last night and of course everybody expected Man City to qualify but we are the first team. It’s difficult at this level against anybody – you never win an easy game in the Champions League. I have played 150 games as a manager in the Champions League and every single game gives you a different problem.”
Arsenal now regroup to face Fulham in the Premier League this weekend.