Arteta: We had the chances to score more

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Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal’s heart and commitment after a solid 1-0 win against Olympiacos in Athens but he made clear that he still sees plenty of room for improvement after his side squandered chances to kill the two-legged Europa League tie.

Bukayo Saka, who set up Alex Lacazette’s late winner, was praised for his risk-taking in the final third and Bernd Leno also got a pat on the back after the German, selected ahead of Emi Martinez, produced a commanding performance between the sticks.

Here’s what the boss had to say when he faced the BT Sport cameras.

On the performance…

It’s a really good result, first of all. To win away in Europe is very difficult. To come to a ground like this and get a result, credit to the lads. We suffered in the first 10 minutes, we gave a lot of simple balls away when we had the chance to open them up and generate the overloads and situations to run. We couldn’t generate any continuity in our play. After that we started to have more control of the game and create more of the situations we wanted. We missed a couple of good opportunities and in the second half, apart from the set pieces, I think we controlled the game, defensively much better. We controlled the game in the opponent’s half much better and we had chances to score more.

On being in a strong position…

We could have put the tie and the match in a much better position. It’s good but we had clear chances where we expect to put the ball in the net.

On Saka…

We try to put him in the position, we surround him with the right players in the right areas because he’s not a full-back. He’s responding really well. He has a lot of courage to make decisions in the final third, to risk things. The most opportunities we created was on his side again. I’m very pleased with his performance.

On Leno making big saves…

He did in the first half, to be fair. We needed him because they are a team on crosses and in wide areas who are very dangerous and we could not prevent that in the first 10 to 15 minutes and that’s why we suffered.

On his side going 9 unbeaten…

We go game-by-game. We go day-by-day. With this process there are a lot of things that I want to improve. There are a lot of things that I see that still doesn’t allow us to dominate the game more and better and create more situations [that are difficult] for the opponent. At the same time, they are playing with a massive heart. The attitude and the commitment, the way we were tracking back…we had three players with cramps and injury and they still carried on, so credit to them.

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Naked Cygan
Naked Cygan
1 month ago

What was wrong with Xhaka in the second half? His Passing was awful.
Still a great away result. Saka MOTM!!!

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Naked Cygan

Absolutely nothing wrong with Xhaka at any time in the game. Even when you’re happy with a win you are still so negative

Snagger
Snagger
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Really he did nothing wrong but his job now is to fill the space Saka leaves behind when going forward, hard to get that wrong.I hope he goes in the summer nothing to do with his strop but there are plenty of more mobile and intelligent midfielders out there better suited to the EPL and Arsenal.

Reality check
Reality check
1 month ago
Reply to  Snagger

Can you name some of them, like the ones we have a realistic chance of buying.

Snagger
Snagger
1 month ago
Reply to  Reality check

Not my job but If you are happy with mediocrity then good for you.

Michael D
Michael D
1 month ago
Reply to  Snagger

Seriously? He has been one of Arsenal’s most consistently good players of the last 2 months – and that is a common opinion, not just my own. You’d prefer to sell him and buy someone more expensive? I’d check whatever medication you are on and reduce it…

Snagger
Snagger
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael D

Consistently average, and will take my medical advice from a doctor if you don’t mind

Naked Cygan
Naked Cygan
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

You didn’t watch the game again Martin. You were too busy ironing your socks . Watch the next game and then blab.

Fred Tkach
Fred Tkach
1 month ago
Reply to  Naked Cygan

I agree, he hardly played anyone through, so many people made runs ahead of him that he ignored when he could have at least tried to slip someone through. He didn’t have a terrible game or anything, but he definitely played it safe.

Naked Cygan
Naked Cygan
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred Tkach

Fred I am glad you watched the game, unlike other people here who can’t handle honest opinions. He had an OK game like you said, but if he improves his passing a bit more he can create some great chances on the break for us.

Cliff Bastin
Cliff Bastin
1 month ago

Saka kind of holds all the cards with the contract situation with these performances doesn’t he? We can offer something crazy like 120k a week for a teenager but so can any big team. 😖

goonerrah
goonerrah
1 month ago
Reply to  Cliff Bastin

No big team can guarantee a starting position though.

The Far Post
The Far Post
1 month ago
Reply to  goonerrah

Not sure that Arteta can promise this either. I suspect the negotiation is stuck on exactly these points: where does Saka play, and how much playing time can he expect. Arteta probably has a headache now, planning what to do with Saka when Tierney comes back. Will he persist with Saka? Will he move him further up? Where would Aubameyang play in that case? And what about playing time for Martinelli? If Arteta shifts Auba to the middle, what happens to Lacazette, in whom he’s invested so much time to re-energize? And surely he can’t juggle Auba and Pepe on… Read more »

Tom
Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Cliff Bastin

Dude chill. Something good happens and we find ways to worry about it. Good players come and go. I’d bet big on Saka staying and I don’t give a shit what he gets paid cos it ain’t coming out of my pocket.

AussieGooner
AussieGooner
1 month ago
Reply to  Cliff Bastin

I don’t think for a minute he wants to be anywhere else. I am assuming he is an Arsenal fan?? He is a young kid, living in London, close to his friends and family who has grown up with Arsenal. There isn’t a chance in hell he is going anywhere. He pays people to get the best possible deal he can get from the club, and no doubt wants as much money as he can get – and deserves. But his bargaining power is weak because nobody in their right mind thinks he would actually go somewhere else at the… Read more »

Santori
Santori
1 month ago

It was a difficult place to go to. We did this before with Wenger in a must win and a make shift team with Flamini-Ramsey anchoring midfield not so long ago… Thought we were cautious and a bit hesitant up top. Too many touches to move the ball from midfield to forward line. Selection of Sokratis slightly questionable for fullback, much rather just had AMN but clearly Arteta has doubts there. Gambled with fate a little defensively but in the end a clean sheet again with that vaunted pair of Mustafi-Luiz! And another useful goal for Lacazette to build on… Read more »

Qutub
Qutub
1 month ago

Sancho and Haaland are the two most talked about teenagers in world football. Saka and Martinelli will be right up there with them. Exciting to have game changing talent on our books for a change.

Anon456
Anon456
1 month ago

Contracts and Transfers Saka should sign for £40k a week ish, probably holding out for a little more but you’re 18 lad, the next 1/2 after this are the big ones if you fulfil you’re potential and keep this outstanding form going. Auba I think fancies his chances at one of the giants, he may sign but we have Saka and Martinelli for the left wing, so we may need to do the unthinkable and sell him in the summer if he doesn’t sign. Don’t know why Laca isn’t signing, none of the top 6 would have stuck with him… Read more »

Anon456
Anon456
1 month ago
Reply to  Anon456

My Bad, forgot Nelson for the RW spot 🙂 Developing really well 🙂

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago

Gk: Leno or Martinez RB: Bellerin or Soares/AMN CB: Saliba or Mustafi/Sokratis/Chambers CB: Luiz or Mari/Holding LB: Tierney or Kolasinac DM: Torreira or AMN/Chambers AM8: Xhaka or Douzi/Willock AM10: Ozil or ESR/Cebellos RWS: Pepe or Nelson S: Auba or Laca/Nketiah LWS: Saka or Martinelli/Auba Now I know some would disagree with some positions and choices, but I think we have a pretty strong squad, although you can see where the money might go in the summer (for me CB and midfield but AM10 the most pressing assuming Cebellos loan ends with his return to Madrid). Be interested to see other… Read more »

Niko from DK
Niko from DK
1 month ago

Yesterdays game was not a pretty one. But, this is an example of a game we would have almost certainly either lost or gotten a draw, a couple of months ago.
This is progress in my oppinion. Being able to win, even when we don’t play well is hugely important

Joey Deacon
Joey Deacon
1 month ago
Reply to  Niko from DK

Totally agree mate. I also think some folks are underplaying just how strong Olympiakos are at home. In the circumstances it was a solid European performance and decent result. COYG!!