Mikel Arteta feels he has to prove his doubters wrong by guiding Arsenal to UEFA Champions League glory.
After seven years away from Europe’s Premier competition, Arsenal are on the brink of qualification as winners of Group B with a game to spare if they beat RC Lens on Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium.
The Spaniard have been frustrated in Europe having seen his side eliminated in the semi final and knockout phase in the Europa League in the last three seasons. Arteta has made a fine start to his Champions League career as a manager, losing only one and winning three of the four matches he has been in charge so far.
According to Opta AI Supercomputer, Arsenal are considered third-favourite to win the Champions League title this season, only behind defending champions Manchester City and German champions Bayern Munich.
Arteta knows teams are weary of the threat pose by Arsenal and are sitting deep to make life difficult for the Gunners. When asked if he has a point to prove in Europe having failed in previous attempt, albeit in a lower competition, Arteta said: “For sure. I think it is not that we have to prove, we had to come back into Europe being the club we want to be, have that presence and the results that tell them we are back in a strong way – we haven’t done that yet and it needs to be done.
“I am enjoying [playing in the Champions League], it is a great feeling. It makes you proud, it makes you feel that it is the level the club should be at and we are competing really well so let’s continue to do so.
“You have to sweat, dig in a lot and play well in games to deserve to win them. We are playing against really tough opponents.
“PSV have won all of their games in their league, they have only lost against us. Sevilla is a very tough place to go and tomorrow is going to be a really difficult game but hopefully we can be better than them.”
In Europe, Arsenal have performed admirably, netting nine goals across four matches. However, domestically, their offensive play has faced difficulties. Mikel Arteta attributes this struggle to the defensive tactics employed by opposing teams, often opting to adopt a deep defensive stance aimed at causing frustration for Arsenal’s attacking efforts.
“It’s not going to be as fluent, it’s not going to be as hectic because there’s no space to run,” he said. “When you’re sitting in traffic I want to go 100 miles an hour but I have three buses and 55 taxis and motorbikes around me, so it’s tricky.
“We need to want to get to where we want to get. In order to do that we have to be really solid. We’ve been really, really solid.
“Game state is a big definer of that. You see that time and time again in the league or any other. In the Champions League what happened? We were really exciting. We scored early against PSV, we did that against Sevilla. That’s a big thing.”
A draw against RC Lens will secure Arsenal’s passage into the knockout, but they will need to travel to Netherlands in the last group stage match needing a win to top the group.