Speaking ahead of the game against Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista spoke about the team’s preparations for the Champions League tie and revealed that the Gunners were much better prepared to face the Croatian side this time around (via Arsenal.com). Arsenal travelled to Croatia for the first match of the group stages, a game that we lost 2-1 after having Olivier Giroud sent off.
Since then, our form has improved markedly, although injuries have caused another slump lately. Nevertheless, the Brazilian defender expressed his opinion that the team would be able to secure a positive result at home, and claims the Europa League doesn’t even bare thinking about at the moment.
“I think we learned a lot [from the game in Zagreb], we showed that we were the better team but that’s football. They knew how to take advantage of our mistakes and got what they wanted out of the game,” he said.
“We’ve had time to reflect on what we did well and what we didn’t. We got more things wrong than right, so in the next game we need to try to improve in order to achieve our objective.
“The fact that this game is at home in front of our fans is very important. Our fans have always cheered us on and helped us and you feel more motivated playing in a stadium like the Emirates. For me in particular, I feel very motivated.
“We could still qualify from our group in the Champions League, so I’m not thinking about the Europa League. I think that we need to focus on winning these next two decisive games and what happens with the other results determines whether we will qualify or not.”
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Gabriel has won many fans thanks to his passionate style of play, and it is good to see that the players have not yet given up hope. Hopefully, they are at least able to produce a strong showing at home tonight to make the fans happy.
Meanwhile, Gabriel’s fellow defender Per Mertesacker also revealed the team’s desire to progress past the group stages during the pre-match press conference yesterday (via Arsenal.com). The German veteran said, “We want to remain in the competition for sure. It has been difficult for us due to our results and our performances but there is still a chance for us and we want to take it seriously.
“We beat one of the best teams in Europe at home so let’s put that in our minds, be confident and put in a performance.”
With the team potentially set to be strengthened by the return of Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal should have enough to secure the win against Dinamo tonight. However, if there is anything we have learned about the Gunners, it is to not take the result of a game for granted. Let’s hope that the boys are able to take the three points today, even though progressing to the Round of 16 remains a distant possibility.