Mikel Arteta has called our Europa League second leg tie with Benfica “a final”. But he admits he is not intimated by big occasion.
The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw and there is all to play for in Greece. As we have struggled in the league, currently occupying 11th. The Europa League is our most likely route back to Europe.
“It’s a big season and a really important [game] mentally and confidence-wise,” he told his pre-game press conference.
“It’s going to dictate if we’re in another competition or not for a few more weeks. This is really what we need. It’s a really tough opponent.
“I always feel that it [pressure] is [on me], every time you’re playing in a competition and you can go out you know the consequences and with this club [the aim] is always to win the competition that you are in so that doesn’t really change much.”
Mikel Arteta has not given up on qualifying through the league. Even if it’s not going to be easy, he wants the team to build momentum by giving it a go on all fronts.
“I think while mathematically everything is possible, in football you have to try so hard,” he said.
“We’re going to do that in the league for sure. It’s true that the Europa League gives you a completely different route and is a competition that we want to carry on playing, and try to win it.
“Tomorrow is another opportunity to make a step forward. The better we are in the Europa League, the better we’re going to be performing in the league and vice-versa. We need to be alive in both competitions.”