Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal have made life difficult by finishing second in their Champions League group - but insists they can compete with any side in Europe.
The Gunners were knocked off top spot in Group F after Wednesday night’s 2-0 defeat in Napoli, with Borussia Dortmund beating Marseille 2-1.
It means Arsène Wenger’s side will now come up against one of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich in the last 16.
“You’re looking at top teams who won their groups so it will be tough, but let’s see what happens,” said Arteta. “I’m sure they won’t be happy to play against us, that’s for sure.
I’m sure we can compete on our day with any team in Europe, but obviously you make it tougher on yourself [if you finish second]. If we had finished first it would have been a different story, but we have to take it on the chin
“I’m sure we can compete on our day with any team in Europe, but obviously you make it tougher on yourself [if you finish second]. If we had finished first it would have been a different story, but we have to take it on the chin.
“Probably before [the competition started] if you had said we were going to get through, we would have been happy with that. But with the position we were in, you want to finish first because you know you’re going to face really difficult opposition in the next round.
“We’re disappointed to lose the [Napoli} game, but we can still take some positives because it was a really tough group.”
Arteta was sent off for two bookable offences in Naples, and he feels he was harshly treated by the referee.
“[I made] two fouls in a game, got two yellow cards and for the second one he was on the floor before I got there,” the midfielder said. “I’m very disappointed because obviously I miss the next game and you don’t want to miss any games, plus you put your team in a difficult position.
“They had scored a goal a few minutes before that and it was always going to be difficult. I think they made 18 or 20 fouls in the first half, and I made two - it wasn’t very fair.”Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source