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Arteta tells Arsenal to ignore criticism and eye Olympiacos revenge
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Chris Myson
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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta concedes the next week will be "massive" in determining the success of Arsenal's season and wants his players to ignore any criticism coming their way.

Arsenal visit Olympiacos in the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday, with Arteta hoping the Gunners can gain revenge.

They were beaten on away goals by the Greek side in the last 32 of last season's competition.

The tournament represents the Gunners' best chance of reaching next year's Champions League, with them having slumped to 10th in the Premier League.

A key week will also see Arsenal face rivals Tottenham in the north London derby on Sunday, before the return leg against Olympiacos.

Arsenal also face West Ham in another London derby before the international break and Arteta knows the pressure is on.

"The players have to focus on performing as good as possible and try to do their best on the pitch," Arteta said. 

"That criticism with where it is coming from with which intentions is something that they must not pay attention to because they cannot control.

"The better we do individually and the better we do collectively, things are going to work better and that's the responsibility they have all the time when they jump on that pitch.

"Obviously, it's a massive week for us, we have four very important games coming up and we need to win all of them. That is our reality and this is how we are going to approach it.

"But we are talking about [it being a decisive week] every week."

Arteta reflected on the Olympiacos loss last year, which saw Arsenal beaten 2-1 at home in the final moments of extra time in the second leg, having earned a 1-0 away win in the opening clash.

"Well obviously, it was a really tough one to swallow," he said.

"The way it happened at the end was really cruel after everything we did in the two games to lose it the way we did it and with the last chance that Auba [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang] had. 

"But we moved on. Obviously, we have some feeling towards that team and we want to put it right.

"Emotionally it really drained us because it was a rollercoaster during the game and with what happened, it could have ended in a beautiful way, but it ended in a really harsh way for us. 

"I think emotionally it took some time to get the team and some individuals lifted because it really hurt.

"We have the two games to look at and everything that happened in those two games. The disappointment that we had to digest, and it took some time to do that because it was a hard one. We had a lot of faith and enthusiasm in the competition, and we were knocked out.

"And now we have another opportunity. It's the beauty of this game. It's a completely different context but the reality is the same that we have to beat them twice to go through in the competition and we have to be better than them.

"They are coming from playing in the Champions League. They played against City two really good games as well so it will be a really tough opponent.

"It's a team that is used to playing in all those competitions and they beat us last year. It doesn't matter the manner but they did it last year so we have to be better than last year to beat them now."


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