Mikel Arteta is thankful Arsenal’s Europa League dream is still alive after their semi-final first-leg defeat by Villarreal.
The Gunners lost 2-1 in Spain after first-half goals from Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol were followed by Nicolas Pepe’s 73rd-minute penalty.
It could have been worse for the Gunners, who struggled during the first half and went down to 10 men when Dani Ceballos was sent off for a second yellow card offence before the hour mark.
Villarreal also finished the game a man down after Etienne Capoue received two yellow cards, leaving the second leg in north London next week finely poised.
“Obviously we are disappointed we lost the game because it is not the result that we wanted to take from it,” said Arteta.
“But after the story of the game we have to take it because we are in the tie, we are alive and, with the circumstances that developed during the game, it put the game and the tie in real danger at some stage.”
Speaking about the mood in the dressing room at full-time, Arteta said: “Well comparing how it was at half-time, it is very different!
“I said to them [at half-time]: ‘We have an opportunity. It is a big challenge what we have ahead of us, but we have the opportunity to make it.
💬 "The fact that we conceded really early in the game really affected us. We lost our organisation, we were really stretched and there were big distances between the lines that we could not join together with the ball."
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 29, 2021
“But it has to be now. In the return leg it is going to be too late. We have to change it right now. If we are able to do that we are going to get here in a completely different position’.
“We still had another incident, which was the red card and playing with 10 men against this team, and the team went to a different level again and we got the goal.”