Mikel Arteta hailed Arsenal’s heart and commitment, revealing three of his side played through the pain barrier in Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League win away to Olympiacos.
Alexandre Lacazette’s 81st-minute strike earned the Gunners the advantage in their last-32 tie ahead of next week’s return at Emirates Stadium.
It was a gritty Arsenal performance, with defenders Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos both needing late treatment at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium.
Arsenal are now unbeaten in their past nine games in all competitions, with Arteta happy impressed by his team’s mentality in Greece.
“We go day by day and game by game because in this process there are a lot of things that I want to improve, a lot of things I see that doesn’t allow us to dominate a game more and better to create more situations,” Arteta told BT Sport.
“At the same time, they’re playing with a massive heart and the attitude and commitment – the way they were tracking back, we have three players with cramps and injuries and they still carried on, so credit to them.”
Arsenal have a foot in the last 16 after impressive young winger Bukayo Saka recorded his fifth assist in this season’s Europa League – more than any other player – to set up Lacazette late on, despite the 18-year-old playing out of position at left-back again.
While Arteta was satisfied with Arsenal’s second away victory since he succeeded Unai Emery, the Spaniard felt the margin of their win could have been more comprehensive.
“It’s a really good result, to win away in Europe is very difficult. To come to a ground like this, credit to the lads,” Arteta said.
“We suffered in the first 10 minutes, we gave a lot of simple balls away when we had the chance to open them up and generate the overloads, in these situations we gave the ball away.
“So, we could not generate any continuity in our play. After that, we started to have more control in the game and create the situations that we wanted and created some good opportunities.
“In the second half, apart from the set pieces, we controlled the game much better defensively. We controlled the game in the opponents’ half much better, and we have chances to score more.
“I think we could have put the tie in a much better position, it’s still good but we had clear chances with top players and we expect to put the ball in the net.”