Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal’s reaction in their Europa League quarter-final tie with Slavia Prague but warned the next round will be “really tough”.
Arsenal produced a stunning performance to eliminate Slavia Prague. After a tight first leg last week, this time they scored three goals within six minutes – shortly after having another disallowed – to set themselves on course for victory. Another goal in the second half completed a 5-1 aggregate win.
The Gunners will come up against their former coach Unai Emery and his Villarreal team in the semi-finals.
Emery’s successor Arteta was delighted with the way his team responded and pointed to their performance against Sheffield United at the weekend as the foundation for their success.
Arteta told BT Sport: “We started really well in a convincing way, aggressive in our high press. We looked a threat all the time.
“I really like the reaction of the team to the goal being disallowed. We scored some great goals. The clean sheet is important as well, the second one in two games.
“It helped the way we played against Sheffield United. The players were in high confidence, when performances are so high the collective improves. The boys were really at it from the start.
“It is a really important win in a crucial moment. We won in a convincing way, so credit to the players.
“There is still a lot to do and things we can improve on, but we have a real desire to improve and be better every day. It will be really tough and Unai Emery is probably the most successful manager in this competition.”
Saka salutes Arsenal character
One of the goalscorers was Bukayo Saka, who has proven himself as one of Arsenal’s most important players this season despite his young age.
The England international echoed Arteta’s praise of their performance.
He told BT Sport: “It was fantastic from start to finish. We did it for all the fans; they all deserve it for all the support they give us. We are really happy to progress.
“We showed real character. The first one was disallowed, Emile [Smith Rowe] deserved a goal. We kept going and got the first one again. We pretty much killed the game in the first half.
“In the first leg we played well but weren’t clinical, credit to the manager and coaching staff, the way we set up, pressed, they couldn’t get out.
“It shows everyone how exciting we can be. When we play like this it is so amazing to be involved in. We have a chance of going to the final and winning this competition, it is up to us. We look forward to the next opponent.”