Arsenal belong at this level in Champions League, says Mikel Arteta

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks on during a Premier League match

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks on during a Premier League match. Photo: Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via AFP

Published Nov 28, 2023


Arsenal require just one point to advance to the knockout stages of the Champions League, and that is where the club should be, manager Mikel Arteta said on Tuesday.

Arteta's side have won three out of four group games, and with a home game against Lens on Wednesday, can secure qualification to the last 16 with a game to spare.

"It's not easy to qualify out of the group, 100 percent. You need to sweat and give a lot in games to win," Arteta told a press conference.

"It makes me proud and it makes me feel that this is the level this club should be at. We have come back to Europe to be the club that we want to be.

"To tell the people we are back in the way that we want to be."

Fabio Vieira was not at Arsenal's training session on Tuesday, and the manager confirmed the Portuguese midfielder will be out for a number of weeks.

"He's been having some discomfort... we sent him to see a specialist and their advice was to get an operation done on his groin, and we did that Monday.

"We expect him to be out for weeks now."

There was better news regarding defender Ben White, who made an appearance late in Arsenal's last game at Brentford on Saturday, and Arteta expects him to be available for the game with Lens.

Arsenal's only defeat in this season's Champions League came away to Lens, and winger Bukayo Saka left the pitch injured early in that 2-1 loss, and his manager was full of praise for the 22-year-old England international.

"Well, he's targeted because he's one of our most dangerous players and the teams know that, and they try to stop our strengths, that's for sure," Arteta said.

"What he's done in those five years is remarkable at his age, when you look at his stats, and how consistent he's been, it's very rare to see that at his age, especially in those positions at top clubs. It's a big compliment for him."

A win over Lens would guarantee top spot in the group, and the manager is keen to wrap it up before the final game away to PSV Eindhoven.

"We want to be top of the group and the opportunity is there for us tomorrow, against a team that causes problems, and that we've already experienced against them, so we have the right motivation to do that tomorrow."

Arsenal lead Group B on nine points, four points ahead of PSV and Lens, with Sevilla bottom with two points.