Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta faced the media in Rome yesterday ahead of his side’s Europa League clash against Benfica.
The Gunners are 10th in the Premier League at the moment and our chances of making it into the top for are hanging by a thread – an extremely thin one which could snap any second.
The Europa League looks like our best route to make it back into the Champions League, but as we saw last season, all our hopes can come crashing down in a matter of a few minutes.
Arsenal looked certain to get past Olympiacos at the same stage last season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored in the 113th minute to push us ahead on aggregate and that seemed like it was enough to win the tie.
Sadly, the Greek champions shocked the world with a goal in the final minute of the game and we crashed out of the competition.
Arteta was asked about that game in his press conference and he claimed that his side are using that ‘cruel’ night from last term as inspiration to go all the way in the Europa League this season.
Arteta: Last season’s defeat was very cruel
He said, as per Arsenal.com: “I thought it was very cruel with the way we got knocked out of the competition. The tie was in our hands and we scored a goal, but then we conceded in the last minute of extra time.
“We still had a massive chance with Auba to go through, but the big lesson there is that you have to play every single minute of the competition with a high focus. Every detail matters and every situation has to be handled, and it’s about being able to manage the game in the way it’s required because it’s over two legs.
“I think it was a really tough experience for all of us with the way it happened because I think we deserved to go through, but as well I think that created more hunger for this season to go and do more.
“We have to use that thing that we are still there, that we haven’t gone through yet, to put more energy, more passion and more commitment into this competition.”
Arsenal Insider’s view
Winning the FA Cup last season made people forget how poor our season was otherwise. Arsenal don’t have that option this term as the Europa League is our only chance of silverware, which makes it our only chance of a successful season.
Ironically, the second-leg is in Greece at Olympiacos’ backyard. That can either dampen the mood or fuel the side to right last season’s wrongs. Arteta is hoping for the latter and so are we ahead of tonight’s game in Rome.