Mikel Arteta says Arsenal must learn from the final 15 minutes of Sunday’s derby victory against Sp*rs warning a repeat of the collywobbles could prove costly when Olympiacos visit the Emirates on Thursday.
The Greeks are well versed in overturning first-leg deficits – they did it at the Emirates last season – and while the circumstances are different – we have a two-goal advantage and three away goals to our name – this Arsenal team like nothing more than self-destructing at inopportune moments.
While we just about clung onto the three points at the weekend, the fact the players’ legs collectively turned to jelly after Erik Lamela’s red card was a clear demonstration of how our self-belief constantly teeters on a knife-edge.
Asked what his side need to do differently to manage a lead for 90 minutes, Arteta said: “Everything different from what we did on Sunday against 10 men.
“We have to stop giving simple balls away, stop putting ourselves in trouble, give a clear direction of where we want to have the ball in those minutes. And play simple. And be sure that we win and manage the situation much better than we did.”
He added: “Sometimes, it happens. Sometimes, one or two actions leads to momentum for the opponent, you get a little bit more tense and you start to have the fear of losing something.
“It’s much better to have the energy to win and not think about maintaining [what you have] or not losing because then you start to play much more restricted. You lose the flow of the game and your confidence. It’s something we cannot do.”
He was also asked what he’s learned from last year’s painfully late exit at the hands of tomorrow’s opponents.
“We went out because the tie was open,” he said. “We had to manage the game in the last few minutes. We conceded two set pieces on the day and we missed some big chances.
“When you do that, these are defining things in both boxes and we didn’t define the tie when we had the opportunities. Tomorrow we know we need to do that better.”
The Gunners are expected to field a strong lineup for the game. The only doubt is Bukayo Saka who is facing a late fitness test.