Mikel Arteta believes that lessons will be learnt ahead of the second leg in a week’s time after our 2-2 draw against Sporting CP.
Willam Saliba put us ahead, but we found ourselves trailling thanks to goals either side of the break from Goncalo Inacio and Paulinho.
However Hidemasa Morita’s own goal levelled things up, and having managed to grab a draw after a pulsating encounter at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, Mikel feels we’ll be better on our own patch next week.
Speaking post-macth, he said: “We had periods in the game where we were in a lot of control, but we lacked a little bit of strength in the final third because obviously we had to adjust today with the players we did not have available.
“I think we conceded two very poor goals that we have to do better on and show much more determination to defend our box in those moments.
“At that level away from home, it puts the tie in a really difficult position but we managed to react. We had periods in the second half where we were much better.”
Backed by a loud home crowd, Sporting came into the game on the back of an eight-game unbeaten run, and having played in the Champions League already this term, their quality was evident throughout.
Mikel feels that having gone toe-to-toe with them today, we’ll be even more prepared for what is to come when they head to north London next Thursday, with a place in the quarter-finals very much up for grabs for both sides.
“It’s a really tough opponent," he continued. "Giving them hope like we did, especially with a lot of giveaways in our own half, that were too risky and it’s not worth playing the balls that we played especially against a team that wants to press the way they did. We learnt some things that we can do better at Emirates Stadium.
“We have to earn the right to play, obviously the atmosphere will be really good for us, it’ll be really helpful. So we’ll watch the game and review it, and we’ll need a better performance next week.”
The boss handed a debut to Jakub Kiwior, who became the first Polish outfield player in our history, and despite having to deal with a confident opponent who hadn’t been beaten in their previous eight games, Mikel felt that the young defender coped well.
“I think he was good, it’s the first time he’s played so it was a different partnership,” he added.
“When you make six changes to the team, that cohesion isn’t really there, and you can sense it especially in the first minutes of the half. After that, I think the team got better and better. Overall, I think he played a good game.”
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.