Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta makes honest Olympiakos admission as Burnley put the pressure on

Arsenal: Arteta admits pressure is on for Olympiacos tie

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has admitted their Europa League last-16 tie with Olympiakos has taken on extra importance in the face of two more dropped points in the Premier League. The Gunners missed out on the chance to close the gap on the teams above them on Saturday, as they were held 1-1 by Burnley.

Arteta’s side got off to the perfect start at Turf Moor, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opening the scoring in the early exchanges.

The visitors then missed a host of chances before their defensive vulnerabilites once again reared their head.

Given the ball from goalkeeper Bernd Leno, Granit Xhaka conspired to fire a pass directly into Burnley striker Chris Wood, who was gited with the easiest goal of his career.

And despite a number of penalty appeals and goalmouth scrambles, Arsenal were forced to settle for a point with their top-four hopes now on life support.

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The result leaves them marooned in midtable, seven points off the top-six and a further two off the Champions League places, with teams above them having a game advantage to boot.

On his side’s hopes of securing a European place, Arteta said: “Really complicated at the moment. It’s true the feeling that I have the way we are playing that we can win any game.

“But as well as you mentioned before if you are giving something to the opponent obviously the game is all the time in the line.

“This in my opinion is where we have the biggest margin for improvement. But anything can happen.”

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It means that  Arsenal’s most likely route back into European football next year is to win the Europa League – an achievement which would book them a place in the Champions League.

On that tie with Olympiakos in midweek, the Gunners boss claimed his side were already playing with an element of pressure on their shoulder.

“We have the pressure of representing this club and what it means in any competition that we play we have to win it regardless of what we are doing in any other competition.

“Obviously, we know that Thursday is a massive game for us.”

Asked if it was a case of two points dropped rather than one gained, he added: “Yeah, absolutely.

“I’m disappointed with the result, but the reality is when you come here, which is a tough place to play, and you generate the chances that we created, don’t score enough, give a goal to the opponent and then don’t get the decisions that you should get it becomes difficult to win a game in the league.”

Arteta was also left incensed at referee Andre Marriner and VAR Kevin Friend’s decision to not award his side a penalty for what appeared a clear handball by Erik Pieters.

The Premier League subsequently released a statement claiming the porximity of Pieters meant no obvious mistake had been made by the on-field official.

But that explanation looked like it would hold little weight with the Gunners boss, as he requested extra clarification from league officials.

“I think it’s obvious and clear I think there is no debate about that. If that’s not a penalty I think somebody has to explain what is a penalty in this league.”

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