Arsenal travel to Greece to take on Olympiacos in their Europa League Round of 16 first leg at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium on Thursday night.
It is probably not an over-exaggeration to say this is the Gunners’ biggest game of the season.
A frustrating draw with Burnley on Saturday means that qualification for Europe via the Premier League is looking increasingly unlikely, and if they are to stand any hope of getting into continental competition next season then winning the Europa League is more or less their only hop
There is also the added narrative of a chance to take revenge on the Greek champions who knocked them out of this competition last season at the Round of 32 stage with a last minute strike from Youssef El-Arab
It promises to be a mouth watering tie that will also Sokratis reunite with the club he left just two and a half months ago.
You can follow every word Mikel Arteta has to say ahead of the match with our Arsenal writer Kaya Kaynak in our live press conference blog below.
Arteta on defeat to Olympiacos last year
Emotionally it really drained us because it was a rollercoaster during the game and with what happened, it could have ended in a beautiful way, but it ended in a really harsh way for us. I think emotionally it took some time to get the team and some individuals lifted because it really hurt.
Arteta on Sean Dyche’s complaints about Lacazette screaming
I don’t comment on what other players do. I comment on what our players do and focus on us. The same as I don’t comment on other managers or other players or how they use their strength to weaken an opponent.
Arteta on whether he still encourages his team to play out from the back
I will always do that as long as we, all the time, follow our principles and the rules that we have. It’s the way we play, when we decide when to play, when not to play, the type of football we have to play with the right distances, the right feet. If not, we don’t play.
Arteta on frustrations in the Premier League
The points that we lost in the three away games against Wolves, Aston Villa and Burnley sums up a little bit our season. We should have got much more from those games and we would be in a different position. But the reality is that in the end we don’t have the way to win and we have to find the way to win and be consistent every three days when you produce those performance. It’s the biggest margin that we have to improve
Arteta on revenge over Olympiacos
It was a really tough one to swallow. The way it happened at the end was really cruel after everything we did in the two games to lose it the way we did it and with the last chance that Auba had. But we moved on. Obviously, we have some feeling towards that team and we want to put it right.
Partey on when we’ll see his best
I think this is just the starting. I’m starting to get used to how my mates play and how the Premier League goes. With time everything will be good.
Partey on frustration over injuries
Yes it was a difficult moment to get used to how the team play and I think the injuries are part of the adaptation and now I feel good.
Partey on Xhaka
I think he’s a great player we all know he works hard for the club he works hard for the mates when he’s on the pitch. We have to keep raising each otehr keep fighting for each other and that’s how we are going to have a good game. It doesn’t matter who we play with we have to do our best.
Partey on the importance of winning the Europa League
I think it’s very important to the club and to the supporters. This club belongs to the champions league and we have to do our best to get to where we want.
Thomas Partey on whether we’ve seen the best of him
Yeah I had a few games. I think against united and against Wolves also I was able to show what I can do. Due to less games and less training I have to keep training and keep working to get back to that level.
Arteta on Sokraits reunion
It’s going to be good to see Papa he’s such a good character he’s liked and loved by everybody here.
Arteta on improvements from last year
I think we are a better team than last year. Looking back at the way we played and the way we are playing now we’ve come a long way
Arteta on Olympiacos reunion
Well obviously it was a really tough one to swallow. The way it happened at the end was really cruel. Obviously we have some feeling towards that team.
Arteta on prioritising games
We have a massive week with the next four games that we have in a short period. The main game is tomorrow and we have to focus on that.
Arteta on Smith Rowe’s fitness
He’s close to retuning he’s gonna have a full session today to see if he’s gonna be involved tomorrow and we’ll see where we are with him
According to reports in the national media, Arsenal are lining up a double summer transfer swoop for Mikel Oyarzabal and Mikel Merino.
The Real Sociedad duo have been impressing in La Liga this season and are on the Gunners’ radar ahead of the summer window opening for business in a few months time.
It is reported that the Gunners would have to pay more than £100million to get a deal over the line for the duo.