Arsène Wenger took a number of positives from Arsenal’s 1-0 victory against Roma, particularly the first-leg advantage and a “defensively sound” performance.
Robin van Persie’s penalty separated the sides, but visiting coach Luciano Spalletti remained optimistic ahead of the return meeting at the Stadio Olimpico on 11 March.
“I am happy with our performance but, of course, there was room to score more goals tonight,” said Wenger. “After tonight, we know that we can create chances. You never know what the right result in Europe is but the positive is that we did not concede. We cannot just defend now [in Rome] – we will want to attack and score goals over there.
“The game was more positive than we saw on Saturday [a 0-0 home draw against Sunderland AFC]. Both teams tried to play and go forwards. Our pace gave them problems. When we tired in the final 20 minutes, you saw that they can be dangerous as well. Defensively as a team it was a sound performance.
“We had no space on Saturday but in these types of games, teams take the initiative when they get the ball. We always looked like we could be dangerous going forwards.
“The next game will be an interesting one because they will throw much more forward. We have three more games between now and the second leg and if we lose players it will be difficult for us. I am worried that we lost [Abou] Diaby tonight because he has a calf problem. He was outstanding.”
Luciano Spalletti, Roma coach accepted that Arsenal deserved their victory, but he believes his side have a good chance of proceeding to the last 16.
“It’s a fair result. They played with good pace and at a good intensity,” said the Roma boss. “We didn’t impose ourselves on the game and so in the first half Arsenal controlled the game. We didn’t create as much as we should have done, especially with the amount of possession we had, but in the second part of the game we were more in the match. We got the final ball wrong on several occasions, especially in the 20 minutes before the goal. When [David] Pizarro came on we were much better.
“I’m confident that we have the same chance [to qualify] as Arsenal, maybe 49 per cent for us and 51 for them because they have scored a goal. If we can take our chances, it will be a completely different match [in Rome].
“Not many player put in a great performance tonight. When playing at this pace, trying to play attacking football, it’s very difficult. The result is quite good for us given the difference between the teams in the first half. We’ll be completely different next time – it will be completely different football to what we showed tonight.”