“We put ourselves in big trouble and maybe we should have conceded a goal. So, it’s something to improve and in Europe, if we do that, we are out. It’s a big lesson.”
Arteta will discover tonight whether his side are quick learners as they take on Olympiacos in the second leg of their last-16 Europa League tie. Arsenal go into the match at Emirates Stadium with a 3-1 lead after winning in Athens and, in truth, they should comfortably see the tie out.
“Sometimes it happens that one or two actions give the momentum to the opponents,” said Arteta. “You get a little bit more tense and you can start to have the fear of losing something.
“It’s much better to have the energy to win what you already have and not think about just maintaining the lead and not losing, because then you are starting to play much more restricted and you lose the flow of the game and your confidence. That’s something that we cannot do.”
Arsenal’s difficultly in managing games is nothing new and Olympiacos know all too well about their issues, having knocked the Gunners out of the Europa League last season at the last-32 stage. Arteta’s side won 1-0 in Greece, but failed to finish the job at home and lost the second leg 2-1 courtesy of Youssef El Arabi’s winner deep into extra time.
“We went out because the tie was open and then we had to manage the game in the last few minutes,” said Arteta. “We conceded two set-pieces and we missed some big chances.
“When you do that, these ties are defined in both boxes and we didn’t defend the tie when we had the opportunities. We know that tonight we’re going to have to do that better.”
Tonight provides Arsenal with the chance to right the wrongs of last season and demonstrate they are beginning to learn their lessons.
Arteta, too, has the luxury of a near fully fit squad to choose from, with only Bukayo Saka a doubt with a hamstring injury.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is available to return after being demoted to the bench for Sunday’s derby and, if any player is capable of killing a tie in the early moments, it is the Arsenal forward.
He, like Gunners fans, could only watch on during the final stages of Sunday’s win over Tottenham and Arteta has made it abundantly clear to his squad what needs to change.
“Everything [must be] different to what we did on Sunday against 10 men,” he said.
“Stop giving simple balls away, stop putting ourselves in trouble and have a clear direction of where we want to have the ball in those last minutes.
“Play simple and be sure that we can win and manage the situation much better than we did on Sunday.”