Mikel Arteta Reflects on Arsenal’s Performance and Future Plans in the Champions League Quarter-final First Leg

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Every word from Mikel’s post-Bayern Munich presser

In the post-match press conference following the eventful Champions League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich, Mikel Arteta addressed several topics, including the team’s performance, the goals conceded, the state of play in the tie, and his thoughts on the late penalty decision. Here is a detailed transcript of his responses:

On conceding two goals after positive defensive performances lately…

Arteta acknowledged that conceding goals can happen, and sometimes it goes unpunished. However, he emphasized that at this level of competition, against strong opponents like Bayern Munich, any defensive lapses can be costly. Arteta mentioned that they allowed Bayern players to run on a few occasions, which is something they need to improve upon in the return leg.

On Harry Kane’s challenge on Gabriel…

Arteta stated that he hadn’t seen the incident again, but the referee had made a decision, and there was nothing more to be done about it.

On the positive impact of the substitutes tonight…

Arteta expressed his satisfaction with the impact made by the substitutes in the game. He mentioned that bringing in two or three players, such as Alex at halftime, Leo and Gabby, and Thomas when needed, had a significant influence on the team’s performance, especially when the game became chaotic and there was a risk of losing control.

On the momentum shift being down to inexperience in this competition…

Arteta stated that he wasn’t sure if it was due to inexperience, but it did create some insecurity within the team. He acknowledged that they had given Bayern things that they didn’t have to earn, which led to the team defending open spaces where Bayern could hurt them. However, Arteta praised the team for reacting well and never giving up. He also thanked the crowd for their fantastic support and mentioned that they would go again to Munich.

On the lessons learned about the squad playing in the Champions League…

Arteta highlighted the importance of gaining experience in the Champions League. He stated that there are moments in games, especially in this competition, that are defining, and the team witnessed a clear example of that in the match against Bayern Munich.

On Saka’s reaction to the penalty not being given…

Arteta admitted that he was focused on the other end of the pitch as they were playing with ten men and the game hadn’t finished. Therefore, he was more concerned about that situation than Saka’s reaction to the penalty decision.

On whether he sympathizes with Saka…

Arteta expressed his understanding and sympathy for Saka’s reaction, stating that if a player believes it’s a penalty, they are likely to react in such a manner.

On the mood in the dressing room after tonight’s draw…

Arteta acknowledged that the team was still alive in the tie and had done what they needed to do when the game became difficult. However, he stressed the need to elevate their level in certain aspects of the game to have a real chance of winning the next leg.

On managing a squad without much experience in the Champions League…

Arteta recognized that mistakes were made in the match, but he believed that with each experience, the players would learn and improve. He emphasized the importance of supporting the players who had performed exceptionally well and viewed the mistakes as part of the learning process in football.

On the positives to take from the result…

Arteta explained that the game state provides a lot of information on whether it is there for the taking or if caution is required. He mentioned that after scoring, they made a few mistakes by giving away possession and allowing transitions, which put them closer to losing the game. However, he expressed his pride in the team’s reaction after going 2-1 down and sensed a belief among the players that they have a chance to win the tie in Munich.

Overall, Mikel Arteta’s post-match press conference covered various aspects of the game, including defensive lapses, the impact of substitutes, the team’s reaction, and the need to learn from the experience in the Champions League.

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