Mikel Arteta said Arsenal are developing a sense of belief after beating Manchester City to reach the FA Cup final.
Arteta spent three years working under Pep Guardiola as an assistant at City, but outwitted his former mentor when they reconvened at an empty Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final.
Arsenal lost 3-0 when they faced City in the Premier League earlier this month. When it came to the cup, though, it was Arteta who got the better of his opposite number, with a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace sending them into the final at City’s expense.
And Arteta acknowledged that Arsenal had to “make the most” of the chances that came their way to beat one of the best sides in the world.
“I’m extremely happy and proud of the players,” Arteta told BT Sport. “I’m sad that we can’t enjoy this moment with our fans.
“That’s what you need against this team. You have to make the most of the opportunities and put everybody on the line. They are the best team in Europe in the way they play positionally.
“There’s a great chemistry between them [Arsenal players] and they believe in what we are trying to do and you can see that. Congratulations to them.
“They [Man City] are really good on the high press, as we are as well. We gave the ball away in dangerous situations and they are good in that transition moment but the first goal was really great. There are some things that we are trying to close down.”
It caps off a great week for Arsenal, who also beat Premier League champions Liverpool in midweek. Arteta added to BBC Sport that it feels “incredible” – while he hopes it may convince Aubameyang to stay.
The striker is out of contract at the end of next season, and there has been much speculation about his future.
But Arteta thinks that reaching a final is a sign the club is “going in the right direction” – a belief he hopes his star man will buy into.
“We’ve had an incredible week to beat the best two teams in Europe, it doesn’t happen every day,” added Arteta.
“I don’t care who plays, I can trust them – we made changes and everyone was ready.
“We had to suffer in many moments. We had to be really well organised and minimise the spaces.
“Hopefully it will help him [Aubameyang] to be more convinced we are going in the right direction.”