Mikel Arteta felt like Arsenal could have controlled their game against Zurich better, but knew the importance of claiming all three points.
Arsenal claimed a 1-0 win over Zurich on Thursday night to finish top of their Europa League group. Kieran Tierney scored the winner in the 17th minute and his side held on to finish above PSV Eindhoven, having already guaranteed they would have a superior placing to Bodo/Glimt and Thursday’s opponents.
As a result, Arsenal go straight to the round of 16 rather than having to navigate a play-off against one of the eight sides dropping down from the Champions League.
It certainly helps their progress, while they have preserved their unbeaten run at home from this season, which now stands at nine games. Their Europa League group campaign brought five wins and just one defeat.
After the game, Arteta told BT Sport: “Job done. It is not easy to win that many games in Europe. I don’t think it was the prettiest game we have played but we manage to win it.
“I think we had chances, especially early in the game and at the end of the first half to get it into a more comfortable position. We didn’t do that. We did not control the game well enough, especially in the second half.
“At the end, we were a bit leggy I think. We gave them one or two chances but managed not to concede and keep a clean sheet and win.
“We have been rotating. I think we are the team that have been rotating the most in Europe today. Players deserve chances and minutes and also the amount of games we play means we cannot maintain the intensity and players being fit.
“We have all the games and fixtures in our minds to try and be competitive all the time. Today was really important.
“We know how important it is going to be with all the teams playing in February. Winning helps winning. The atmosphere in the dressing room is much better after a win than a loss.”
Arteta reveals Gabriel Jesus mindset amid goal drought
Gabriel Jesus captained Arsenal on the night, but was unable to get on the scoresheet. The striker has now gone without a goal for eight games.
However, Arteta is still pleased with the contributions he has been making.
The manager said: “It does bother him for sure. When he scores two he wants to score four. Today he had a couple of good chances.
“But what he generates for the team is amazing. Last week he gave three assists. Today he was involved in every action again. The goals will come.”
Next up for Arsenal is an away match against London rivals Chelsea on Sunday lunchtime.