A big night in Greece saw Arsenal come out on top, winning 3-0 to qualify for the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
Going into the game the Gunners knew a convincing win was required, and if they conceded they would have to score on at least three occasions.
That meant, as well as getting on the scoresheet, staying tight at the back was crucial.
“It felt like we had to dig deep and I think that was our duty,” captain for the evening Per Mertesacker told Arsenal Player after the game.
“The key was not to concede. We focused on being patient all the way through.
“Defensively it was an outstanding performance. When we play well defensively, we can always score and we can always make the difference with our players up front.”
All evening the defence was superb. Laurent Koscielny made some crucial clearances and tackles in the first half before Mertesacker himself made a stunning tackle in the box with Arsenal two goals to the good, shortly before the team went down the other end and won a penalty to seal the game.
Olivier Giroud’s hat-trick sealed the win and grabbed the headlines, but it couldn’t have happened without our defence.
Heading through in such dramatic fashion is massive for the team, who will take a lot more from it than an ordinary draw and a simple qualification. Now we need to take the bounce from the Olympiacos result into other games, knowing we can handle the pressure.
“It makes us stronger as a unit, and the belief is there and was there before the game,” Mertesacker said. No doubt it was, but it must have been strengthened now after a few of years of narrowly heading out, albeit in the knockout rounds.
“You could feel that we wanted to show our personality and our character, and that is something we’ve learnt in the last couple of years.
“We are now patient, believe in ourselves and our strength, and it paid off.”
Indeed it did. Take the same attitude and application to Aston Villa at the weekend and it will surely pay off there as well.