Arsene Wenger heaped praise on summer signing Lucas Perez, who scored a hat-trick on Tuesday night as Arsenal ran away 4-1 winners at Basel to secure top spot in their group.
Arsenal came into the game resigned to end the group stage of another UEFA Champions League campaign at the second spot. But a magnificent 4-1 win, combined with a surprise result at Parc Des Princes that saw Paris Saint-Germain being held 2-2 by Ludogorets, saw Arsenal grab top spot.
Arsene Wenger was very pleased after the game. The French manager started off the post-match conference by heaping praise on Lucas Perez, who has found his chances limited since arriving in the summer from Deportivo La Coruna.
The Spaniard was handed a start by Wenger against Basel. Perez didn’t disappoint, scoring a scrumptious hat-trick to break the spirits of Basel. His manager full of praise for the hard-working forward after the game.
“The first goal is a real striker’s goal. He has an eye for goal and good movement in the box, which is why he scores. He scored more than 20 goals in Spain last season and he has shown why.”
Wenger also stated that he felt relieved to have grabbed the top spot, which enables them to play the second leg at home. However the manager did throw in a word of caution to remind everyone that the Gunners could still face a tricky draw, despite finishing first.
“I don’t even know who we can get because I don’t know the results of the night, but as I told you before, we can still have a difficult draw. It will be difficult but we will have less guilt because we feel we’ve done the job by finishing first, and we play our second game at home. That’s what we wanted,” said Wenger.
Wenger touched upon the luck factor as well, speaking about how the other result in their group went in their favour and enabled them to beat PSG to top spot.
All in all, Arsenal players and fans alike would be elated at securing the top spot in the group stage. Even though they may still face a formidable opposition, the first place marks a break in the usual trend of the Gunners finishing second and facing strong opposition in the Round of 16.
Perhaps this can provide more belief, and spark a historic European campaign for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.