Mikel Arteta responds to Arsenal dig from Porto head coach Sergio Conceicao

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta attends a press conference at Sobha Realty Training Centre on March 11, 2024 in London Colney

Mikel Arteta has described Sergio Conceicao’s description of Arsenal’s mentality in their Champions League defeat to Porto as ‘strong words’.

The Gunners slipped to a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Portugal last month as Galeno’s late strike sealed the win for Porto.

After this side’s loss, Arteta claimed that Porto used a ‘low defensive block’ and had ‘no intention of playing’.

Conceicao hit back at Arteta’s assessment in his post-match interview as he said of Arsenal: ‘It’s an opinion. They wanted to play, we wanted to win.

In response to Conceicao’s verdict on Arsenal’s performance, Arteta said on the eve of his side’s second leg against Porto: ‘There is no interpretation, those are strong words.’

Asked if Conceicao’s words provide extra motivation for his Arsenal players, Arteta replied: ‘We don’t need any more motivation than what is ahead of us if we do our job tomorrow.’

Meanwhile, Conceicao insists Porto will look to attack at the Emirates Stadium during their second leg on Tuesday evening.

‘We know that it is a very difficult task,’ Conceicao said.

‘We cannot forget, and when I talk about the internal competitions too, the difference between the clubs, especially the big three, is enormous, but especially in this competition. Arsenal are a team with the second highest value of market here, we have the second lowest.

‘When the ball starts rolling, there is quality on both sides, competent technical teams in the 16 teams that are at this stage. We have to look at our team, observing and seeing what the opponent can do with the many qualities that exist. They are a well-trained team, who know and understand every moment of the game and beyond.

‘There is also a very interesting aggressiveness, they are a complete team, well trained, with excellent individualities . Any of the players are very strong.

‘We look at this with respect, not with any kind of fear or trepidation. We came here to play the game and win the game.

‘Each game has its own story. Arsenal could, in one situation or another, do something different. There are corrections to be made in every game, there is an interval to adjust some things, and even in the game itself, players have to be ready for it.

‘Playing Gabriel Jesus or Havertz up front is different, Trossard or Martinelli too. Playing Jorginho in midfield or Rice deeper is different, with Havertz or Odegaard up front.

‘It’s realising what they didn’t do and couldn’t explore at the Dragao. We have to be prepared to give a positive response defensively, looking at the opponent’s goal.’

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