Mikel Arteta said he is ‘proud and excited’ ahead of leading Arsenal into the UEFA Champions League for the first time.
Arsenal return to the Champions League after a six-season absence and the Gunners open their group stage campaign at home to PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday evening.
For Arteta, it will be a first experience of the competition as a manager having led his improving Arsenal team to a runners-up finish in the Premier League last season.
The Spaniard said both he and his squad are excited about the club’s long-awaited return to Europe’s elite and believes Arsenal are ready to test themselves against the continent’s best.
“Proud and excited,” Arteta said on his feelings ahead of facing PSV at his pre-match press conference.
“It’s been a long time for the club since we have been in the competition and obviously it’s the first time for me as a manager, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
On whether the Arsenal players shared that feeling, Arteta added: “Yes because we’ve been chasing it and fighting for it and now we’ve got it, we have to make the most out of it. It starts at home and I’m sure our supporters are going to be really excited about it and it’s about managing that and enjoying the challenge.”
Arteta was asked whether Arsenal had any nerves ahead of their Champions League return and said his players are used to playing ‘top opposition’ in the Premier League.
“We have to treat it like any other game. We are used to playing top opposition every week in the Premier League and tomorrow again we’re going to have a top side fighting against us. The good thing is that we experience that every three or four days in the Premier League, so it won’t be any different tomorrow.”