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Arteta: We wouldn’t have deserved to go out

by Koolkola

Mikel Arteta has said that our  4-3 aggregate win against Benfica means the players now have something to play for in a tough season.

A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace, and a Kieran Tierney strike helped us advance after we squandered an early lead. Bukayo Saka produced both assists for Auba’s goal, with the winning goal coming with three minutes left on the clock.

With the team sitting 11th in the league, the chance at winning the Europa as a route to Europe is the important.

“It certainly keeps the season going in a much better way because this competition is going to help in the Premier League a lot,” Arteta told his post-game press conference.

 

“It joins everyone together to have something important to play for and today would have been really harsh with what has happened in the two legs to be out of the competition. I’m extremely happy with the result.”

Over both legs, we looked like the better team but couldn’t put away the chances we created. We also conceded goals from harmless situations.

The boss believed an exit would have been harsh after the performance.

“No, I don’t think we would have deserved it (to go out),” he said.

“The reality is that we gave them two goals in the two legs, and when you do that against any opponent, and an opponent with the quality of Benfica, you’re going to be in trouble.

 

“That’s why we were in trouble. We gave away a penalty in a situation that we knew was going to happen, and then today we gave away a goal after our own corner. After that, the reaction of the team, the belief and what I was sensing on the pitch and how much they wanted it, gave me hope.

 

“We changed it and tried to be more of a threat, more attacking, and I’m especially happy about Dani because he’s a player that lives this profession like the most important thing in his life, and when he made that mistake, if that would have cost the team to be out of the competition, it would have been mentally really tough.

 

“That’s when you need players in the team like the ones we have with Auba and Bukayo creating and KT scoring the goal to save him. Out of a difficult situation created a really nice moment.”

Last year’s exit happened at this stage of the competition and it would have been in similar circumstances if we had gone out. Aubameyang has the chance to get the team over the line but missed a big chance.

This time, he made no mistake with three minutes left on the clock. He admitted afterwards that last year’s mistake had been on his mind. Arteta said it was a poetic response.

“Yes, that was the first instance [Aubameyang’s miss against Olympiacos] that came into my mind when he scored,” he said.

 

“I didn’t know if VAR was going to allow the goal and then with the last action they were offside as well. They had the chance so this is the beautiful thing about football. If you keep going always, you have the chance to put it right.”

 

He added: “I completely trust him because we produced the chances and you know with Auba that when he has chances, he is going to score goals.

 

“The last few days after the game in Rome against them, he missed three opportunities that are normally three goals for him, and he needed to react and it’s great to see that the way he reacted is by being upset and trying to be better and not just feeling sad for himself in this moment. I am really pleased with how he did tonight.”

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