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Martin Odegaard insists Arsenal fear no-one in Champions League last-eight draw

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 13 Mar 2024

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Martin Odegaard insists Arsenal cannot head into a long-awaited Champions League quarter-final draw fearing any opponent and called for Tuesday’s penalty shoot-out win over Porto to act as the catalyst for a Premier League title tilt.

The Gunners ended a 14-year wait to reach the last eight of Europe’s top-level club competition after David Raya saved two spot-kicks to seal progression following a 1-1 aggregate draw with Porto.

Leandro Trossard’s first-half strike at the Emirates Stadium drew Arsenal level in the last-16 tie, but the two sides could not be separated until Raya took centre stage, with all four of the hosts’ penalty takers finding the back of the net.

Arsenal had crashed out at the first knockout stage for seven consecutive years under Arsene Wenger and went on to endure a seven-year exile from the Champions League until they finished second in the Premier League last season.

Mikel Arteta’s side sit top of the table at present and Odegaard, who converted the first penalty of the shoot-out, believes Arsenal cannot fear facing the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Manchester City in the next round.

“To be honest, we can’t think like that,” he replied when asked if there was anyone he wanted to avoid in Friday’s draw.

“It’s the biggest tournament in the world and, no matter what team we get, it’s going to be a good team. We will just take what we get and we will try to win.

“That’s where we want to be. We want to be on the biggest stage. We want to play the biggest games and fight for the biggest trophies.

“When I came here I believed in the project, in the club, what they were doing, everything around the club, I believed in it – and now we are here doing well.

“We just have to keep pushing each other and make sure we get a little bit better every day. We will see where it takes us.”

Those improvements could also yet take Arsenal to a first Premier League crown in two decades, having fallen agonisingly short last year.

After leading the way for 248 days of the campaign, they were pipped at the post by Treble-winning City.

However, a 2-1 victory over Brentford on Saturday followed by a draw between City and Liverpool means Arsenal will be top heading into the international break.

They travel to the Etihad Stadium on March 31 and Odegaard wants the win over Porto to act as fuel for their title drive.

“I think it is a massive boost for everyone,” the Norway international added.

“The way we did it also, it maybe wasn’t the best game, but you just saw everyone pushing so hard, digging so deep.

“I think you saw the mentality in the team when we stepped up for the penalties. I am really proud of everyone. We have to use this in a good way.

“I think we have to use this, we have to grow off this. It is a massive night for everyone. We are still a young squad, but this was another big experience for everyone.

“We have to keep building on that and use it in a good way going into the end of the season. It should be a massive boost for everyone.

“Every time we play, we want to win. We want to fight for all the trophies we can.”

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