Mikel Arteta has said Arsenal are becoming the team his side ‘want to be’ after an impressive return to the Champions League stage.
Arsenal are competing in the Champions League for the first time since 2016/17 this season and can confirm their place in the knockout rounds if the Gunners avoid defeat to Lens on Wednesday evening.
A win over the French side at the Emirates will confirm a place in the last-16 as group winners and Arteta has been pleased with how his team have handled their return to Europe’s elite.
“It’s not easy to qualify out of the group, 100 per cent. You need to sweat and give a lot in games to win,” Arteta said at his pre-match 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.”
Arteta reserved praise for Bukayo Saka and discussed the 22-year-old’s development at Arsenal. Saka has five goal involvements in four Champions League appearances this season and set up Kai Havertz’s winner at Brentford at the weekend.
Arteta believes Saka is now being targeted by opposition teams, but says that should serve as a compliment to the winger.
“He is targeted because he is one of our most dangerous players. What he’s done in the five years is remarkable – it’s very rare to see that at his age.
“The impact he has in games is crucial for us. Getting to the top is one thing but maintaining it is another.
“He has got the right mentality. The right family. The right advice round him. That’s what makes him special.”