Per - ‘Outstanding’ defence was the key

Per Mertesacker says Arsenal’s “outstanding defensive performance” at Olympiacos set the foundation for a famous result.

Olivier Giroud’s first hat-trick for the club in a 3-0 win in Athens on Wednesday helped secure the Gunners’ place in the knockout stage of the Champions League.

Mertesacker says the result demonstrates Arsenal’s belief and proves that the team have learnt from previous disappointments in Europe.

“It was a long road for us,” he told Arsenal Player. “It felt like we had to dig deep and I think that was our duty, to do everything possible and use everything in our locker to survive and go through. That was our duty and we delivered.

“The key was not to concede. We focused on being patient all the way through.

“We played a great game in the second leg last season against Monaco, but this was different. Offensively we always looked dangerous in the first half and we took our chances, scored very early in the second half and then relieved the pressure by making clearances.

“Defensively it was an outstanding performance. When we play well defensively, we can always score and we can always make the difference with our players up front.

“It makes us stronger as a unit, and the belief is there and was there before the game.

“You could feel that we wanted to show our personality and our character, and that is something we’ve learnt in the last couple of years.

“We are now patient, believe in ourselves and our strength, and it paid off.”

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