Soccer

A genuine dream – Mikel Arteta loved Arsenal’s rout of Lens in Champions League

Mikel Arteta saw his side batter Lens (John Walton/PA)
Mikel Arteta saw his side batter Lens (John Walton/PA) Mikel Arteta saw his side batter Lens (John Walton/PA)

Mikel Arteta admitted it was a “genuine dream” watching Arsenal’s dominant 6-0 victory over Lens at the Emirates Stadium which saw them qualify for the Champions League last 16.

The Gunners topped Group B with a game to spare after they battered their French opponents with six different goalscorers.

Kai Havertz, Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard struck in the first half before Jorginho added their sixth from the penalty spot late on.

Arsenal boss Arteta talked up his team’s determination which secured the club’s 100th Champions League victory.

“It was a genuine dream,” Arteta said.

“We had a chance to qualify today and we’ve done it in a really convincing way against a really good side. The team from the beginning showed a lot of aggression and determination to go for the game.

“It’s great we’re able to win in this way and we showed at home not to concede any goals and score a lot which is a positive factor. The players need to believe we can do that against big opponents.”

The Spaniard noted that qualification with a game to spare allows him to rotate in Arsenal’s final group fixture against PSV Eindhoven on December 12.

Arteta added: “Every time we play a football match we’ll prepare in the best way but it will give us some room now certainly in relation to the state of the squad by being able to use certain players more or less.”

Arsenal line up for a photograph before kick-off
Arsenal line up for a photograph before kick-off Arsenal romped to victory (John Walton/PA)

Havertz scored his second in as many games after the German netted a dramatic late winner in Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League victory at Brentford.

The attacker’s influence in recent games has impressed Arteta after a difficult start to life in north London since his reported £65million move from Chelsea in the summer.

“Kai again scored two goals in two games and that’s really good for the confidence of the player,” he added.

“He’s scoring goals, playing well, participating in wins. Those are positive attributes and you can see the reception of his team-mates and the crowd singing his name and being with him in every positive action.

“These are good things that are going to help him show why he’s a tremendous player.”

Declan Rice had another flawless game in midfield and Arteta applauded the England international’s consistency and decision-making.

He said: “He was superb again today with the consistency and understanding of the game that he’s showing.

“The decision-making all the time and the action and timing to win the ball back is so good.”