Fri 17 March 2023 | 9:15

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal's Europa League exit a 'huge blow'

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admits that Europa League elimination is a 'huge blow' to his team.




in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw at the Emirates on Thursday in the second leg of their Europa League last 16 round. The first leg finished 2-2 in Portugal.

"Huge blow,"


said of the result afterwards.

"We really wanted to go through and fight in the competition and go for it and today we tried for 120 mins and penalties and it wasn't enough.

"First of all, congratulations to Sporting Lisbon for going through. Looking at ourselves, the game started difficult, we lost Tomi early in the game, then we lost Saliba and that left us with really difficult game management because we only had that window to make subs and a few players could not play the 90 minutes.

"But still, we didn't find our rhythm and our flow and we allowed too many spaces and didn't win enough duels, and then we gave the ball away many, many times, sometimes time after time.

"Then, the last 20 minutes, we got the flow, the momentum and created three big chances, but we didn't score.”

Arsenal star Gabriel Martinelli missed his penalty kick, but Arteta believes he will react well to this disappointment.

"He will react well,"

he said.

"Obviously he is disappointed today. We all are. When you take that decision, the possibility is always there. He will learn from it like Bukayo did in the past, and move on.”

Arteta also urged his side to focus on their 11 remaining games in the Premier League.

"We gave everything,"

he said.

"It wasn't our day, we weren't at our best individually or collectively, but they gave every drop of effort they could on that pitch.

"It wasn't enough but if we do things better than what we did today on Sunday, we'll have a big chance to win the game.

"Now, the 11 games we have is the focus, the only focus we have, and everybody is thinking about one thing, and that is Palace. To be in the best mental and physical condition, with a lot of clarity, with all the energy there."

Arsenal's manager does not think this defeat will help them in the Premier League title race.

"I cannot see it today that way,"

he said.

"You go through the competition and win, it's magnificent. If it's not and it affects your plans in the league, it's a different story.

"But we wanted to go through and we put everything in. The effort the boys put in, when it wasn't our best day, the hunger and the desire they showed to win, the way they were tacking back, was incredible.

"They really wanted it and today it didn't happen. We need to put the head up and now look for Palace. It's what it is. It's 11 games and the first one starts on Sunday.”

Arsenal lost Tomiyasu and Saliba to injuries in the first half of this match.

Arteta added:

"Tomiyasu looks pretty serious from his reaction straight away and what he said to me, but it's very early and very difficult to know. Willy, I don't know. He had some discomfort and he could not carry on, so we had to take him out.”

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag recently claimed that Arsenal has been lucky with injuries this season, but Arteta said they had a lot of injuries but dealt with them better than other teams.

"We've been carrying injuries throughout the season,"

he said.

"We had Emile out for four months, we had Gabriel Jesus out for four months, Alex [Oleksandr Zinchenko] for two and a half months, Thomas [Partey] for a month and a half, Eddie [Nketiah] for a month and a half.

"We had quite a lot of injuries already but we dealt with that.

"The disappointment is not going to go away. The disappointment is there now, but it brings clarity. There are 11 Premier League games to play and the next final is against Crystal Place.

"We have to recover and put all our energy and focus there, play better than today and put the same effort as today and win.”

source: SportMob

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