Mikel Arteta praises Arsenal for beating the ‘two best teams in Europe’
A delighted Mikel Arteta said Arsenal’s impressive 2-0 win over Manchester City to reach the FA Cup final meant they had beaten the “two best teams in Europe” following Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool. Pep Guardiola, though, was critical of City’s performance, saying they struggled in the first half at Wembley.
Two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – on 19 and 71 minutes – ensured Arsenal knocked the holders out and handed City a first domestic cup defeat since February 2018. After the victory over the champions, Liverpool, it suggests that Arsenal can be optimistic about their direction under Arteta, who took over in December.
He said: “Really happy with the last four or five days. We’ve beaten probably the best two teams in Europe. I’m really pleased with the players, their performance and the way they are fighting on the pitch.”
David Luiz endured an error-strewn display in June’s 3-0 Premier League loss at City but was among Arsenal’s best performers now. Arteta said: “I didn’t have any doubts about his reaction, he put his hand up after that game.”
Winning the Cup would secure Europa League football but Arteta denied there was a need to do so to convince the Arsenal hierarchy to invest in the summer window. “We agree with the plan we have in place, the vision is clear,” the Spaniard said. “It’s about the possibilities we have and at the moment we have some uncertainties. If we win it we’ll be in Europe and financially we’ll be stronger so we have to be a little patient.”
Arteta was asked about Aubameyang’s future. He said of the double scorer: “The way he looks at it when I speak with him, he sounds pretty convinced [to stay]. But if he can see the success, and that the direction we are taking it is the right one, I think he’ll be more positive about it, yes.”
Guardiola said his side had lacked desire. “We didn’t play in the first half but we played the second one and in these levels of the semi-finals and finals you have to make a good [overall] performance. It sometimes happens. Today in the first half we were not ready.”
Guardiola warned that City will have to be better when hosting Real Madrid in next month’s Champions League last-16 second leg. “I don’t have to tell them. They have to know it – I think they feel it. The last game against Bournemouth was not good and today the first half was not good. We struggled to play at our level and we know it. You don’t have to be a genius to realise we have to increase our standard against Madrid if we want to have any chance to go through,” he said.