Mikel Arteta says there are no excuses for his side’s below-par performance against Olympiacos after Arsenal were beaten 1-0 at the Emirates.
While the Gunners secured safe passage to the quarter-finals thanks to the lead established in the first leg, the Spaniard was less than impressed by his players’ sloppiness on the ball which again cost them a goal.
Not for the first time in recent weeks, Dani Ceballos was caught labouring on the ball and the Greek side counter-attacked to score through Youssef El-Arabi’s deflected effort.
With 39 minutes still left on the clock, it made for a nervy second half; one that Arteta says his stars must learn from.
“I am pleased because we are through and last year we went out by them,” said the boss.
“If I have to evaluate the performance with what we’ve done today with the ball in particular, then it’s nowhere near the standards we have set for ourselves.
“We made it really difficult because we didn’t have any stability when you give the amount of balls away that we have in the game.
“When that happens, you don’t have the control to manage the tie in the way that we should have done and that’s related to the amount of chances we missed again.
He added: “We have to manage to play every three days, we have to manage to play the ties, we have to manage to play when we are in front or behind.
“It’s football and I don’t want any of those excuses. I’ll say it again, it’s not anywhere near the level we want when we’re on the ball.”
Asked whether it matters how his side plays if they still get through, he responded: “It does matter because it’s not [just] about the result, it’s about the performance and the direction that we want to take, and as well the confidence and the level of consistency that we have to show to have a great performance and do it again. For me, it does matter, but obviously, I’m really happy that we are through.”
The draw for the next round will take place on Friday with Manchester United, Slavia Prague, Granada, Roma, Villarreal, Ajax and Sp*rs’ conquerers Dinamo Zagreb all in the hat.
“They’re all really good teams and the competition is complicated so let’s see,” said Arteta when asked to comment on the quality of the sides left in the competition.
He also touched on Jose Mourino’s side crashing out of Europe after Sunday’s north London derby defeat.
Sp*rs travelled to Croatia with a two-goal first leg advantage but went down 3-0 despite Dinamo’s manager being jailed earlier in the week.
With a straight face, Arteta said: “It shows as well the level of opposition, that people take for granted that you play against an opponent and you will go through, because the name of the club that they represent. It is not like that, every team in Europe is difficult to beat.”