Mikel Arteta has admitted that his Arsenal players were “a bit leggy” in their 1-0 win over FC Zurich in their final group-stage game in the Europa League.
Last week’s defeat against PSV Eindhoven meant that Arsenal had to match the Dutch side’s result on Thursday evening to secure top spot in Group A.
PSV managed to beat Bodo-Glimt 2-1. Over at The Emirates, Kieran Tierney fired the ball home inside the opening 20 minutes to make it 1-0 to Arsenal.
The Gunners had chances to increase their lead but they were unable to extend their advantage.
FC Zurich troubled the hosts as the Swiss outfit gave it everything to make life difficult for Arsenal.
Arteta’s side managed to hang on though as they earned the three points they needed to go through to the knockout stage as group winners.
Arsenal will now not have to play a two-legged play-off in February. But the same cannot be said for Manchester United.
Arteta stated post-match that he knows how important Thursday’s win is even if it was not “the prettiest”.
“Job done. It is not easy to win that many games in Europe. I don’t think it was the prettiest game we have played but we manage to win it,” Arteta told BT Sport.
“I think we had chances, especially early in the game and at the end of the first half to get it into a more comfortable position. We didn’t do that.
“We did not control the game well enough, especially in the second half. In the end, we were a bit leggy I think. We gave them one or two chances but managed not to concede and keep a clean sheet and win.
“We have been rotating. I think we are the team that has been rotating the most in Europe today. Players deserve chances and minutes and also the amount of games we play means we cannot maintain the intensity and players being fit.
“We have all the games and fixtures in our minds to try and be competitive all the time. Today was really important. We know how important it is going to be with all the teams playing in February.
“It does bother him for sure [Gabriel Jesus not scoring for eight games]. When he scores two he wants to score four.
“Today he had a couple of good chances. But what he generates for the team is amazing. Last week he gave three assists. Today he was involved in every action again. The goals will come.”
READ MORE: Arsenal looked utterly knackered against Zurich, but that’s why sealing top spot could prove so precious