Mikel Arteta: Arsenal know that ‘what happened in the past is irrelevant’ as they eye first UCL quarterfinal since 2010

Having touched down in Porto on Tuesday afternoon following a training session at the club’s Sobha Realty Training Centre, Mikel Arteta addressed the media from the Estádio do Dragão ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League round-of-sixteen tie.

Arteta lashed on the praise for Porto, who sit seven points off the helm of the Liga Portugal after 22 matches. ‘I’m really impressed with Porto, I know the manager really well and the history that they have,’ explained the Spaniard.

‘They have a lot of experience in the competition, they have many qualities in many phases of play, that’s why they are always competitive in the European competitions. It’s a really tough opponent that we are going to face tomorrow, at the same time we are very excited. It’s been seven years that we haven’t been here and we are all full of energy and excitement to play the game we want to tomorrow.’

Quizzed about how far his side can progress in Europe’s elite competition this season, Arteta insists his side are ‘really excited about the prospect of reaching Arsenal’s first quarterfinal tie in 14 years.

‘It’s been seven years since we’ve been at this table for this kind of match. and 14 years since we’ve been able to go to the next stage. That’s the challenge, that’s what is ahead of us and we are really excited to face it, and to go for it with full belief, that’s for sure.’

‘We know how tricky it is. We’ve been two or three months out of the competition and now we are going to face a really different stage of it. All the teams are very, very tough, we have little time to prepare the games, and the ball is rolling. You have to be very ready because the teams are very prepared and very dangerous.’

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Despite Arsenal’s lengthy absence from the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League, Arteta told reporters that ‘what happened in the past is irrelevant’.

The players ‘know that we haven’t been in the competition for seven years, obviously, because some of them were here and they know the story, and they know that what happened in the past is irrelevant, and the challenge and ambition that we have now to go through and deserve to be through.’

‘It would be incredible to have that feeling to lift that cup in London on the 1st of June. It’s there, it’s in our minds, and it’s a dream but it’s a lot of things that you have to earn the right before that, and tomorrow we’re going to have a big obstacle ahead of us. We are really looking forward to it.’

While Arteta appreciates that ’95% of the players haven’t played in this competition,’ the Spaniard believes that his squad have ‘a point to prove that we are good enough and want to be there.’

He explained that the team have called upon Kai Havertz’s expertise, with the German having netted the deciding goal at the Estádio do Dragão in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League Final. ‘That’s a conversation that’s been going on for a few days,’ said Arteta.

‘It’s probably the biggest highlight of his career, an incredible moment for him, and Jorginho as well. Regarding his performances, it’s as he’s been for the past three months, he scored a fantastic goal on top of that, so probably bigger than what he’s done in past. But we’re really happy with him.’