Arsene Wenger has expressed surprise at Arsenal’s Champions League progress.
The Gunners became the first Barclays Premier League side to qualify for the knockout stages last night at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger felt it was just reward for his squad’s hard work after a difficult start to the season, with many doubting whether arsenal would be able to qualify at all.
“I am surprised that we are the first English team to qualify," he said.
"When we drew Udinese in the qualifier, you couldn't bet exactly that we would go through like we have done so overall I am happy.”
Arsenal survived a tough tie against the Italians, going through 3-1 on aggregate with plenty of scares. A few days later was their Old Trafford nightmare, the 8-2 mauling their worst defeat for over 100 years.
Wenger made a number of deadline day signings, and the Emirates Stadium side have been slowly putting their season back together since.
Now on a nine-match unbeaten run, the Gunners’ manager feels as though his side are getting what they deserve for their resilience and unity.
"Manchester United could have qualified [by beating Benfica on Tuesday] and of course everyone expects Man City to qualify. We were in a difficult group and I am very happy to see where we have come from," he added.
"We came through a very difficult period because we were united and we worked hard together."
Arsenal can now rest key players in their final group game against Olympiacos, after the Greek side’s win in Marseille confirmed Wenger’s side will finish top of Group F.