On the occasion of his first Champions League match as a manager, Mikel Arteta admitted that he felt emotional listening to the competition’s iconic theme blasting out at Emirates Stadium before our 4-0 win against PSV Eindhoven.
It is a tune that Mikel has heard many times before as a player in our colours, but having guided us to a return to Europe’s premier club competition as a manager, he admits it was special to savour it again after a long absence.
And the result, clinched thanks to goals from Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard, Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard, added to the exceptional performance from our entire squad meant this is a night the boss will remember fondly forever.
Reflecting on the occasion post-match, he said: “I’m really happy. It was really emotional just listening to the music and the atmosphere that we had in the stadium, it was great. It is a good memory for the first game to win 4-0 and the way we played, I’m really happy.
“I could sense over the past 48 hours and the way [the players] were, the level of attention that they wanted, how they were competing like they were up for the fight. But then you have to do it against a really good side that hasn’t lost a single game, and today we won because we were really efficient in both boxes.
“We had some transition moments to defend after their reply and we did that really, really well and we were really clinical. We were really composed on the ball to pick the right player, the right pass, the right space and that was the difference in the game.”
While the club had experienced a six-year absence from the competition before tonight, Mikel believes that getting this first game out of the way is crucial in helping his players know that they belong at this level.
He feels that our exposure to Premier League action week in, week out, plus the experienced international pros at our disposal, means that we are perfectly equipped to challenge the rest of the continent’s elite over the rest of the season.
On whether this was a statement win, Mikel added: “It is more for us that we can perform at this level and it is nothing different to what we experience every single week in the Premier League. It is the best preparation for us and shows that a lot of players that play international level are used to these competitions as well.
“Emotionally, winning is the best, the best, the best. It is the best thing you can do, and I now have 24 players desperate to play on Sunday.”
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