Mikel Arteta has expressed his disappointment on crashing out of the Europa League semi-finals after a 0-0 draw in the second leg. The Europa League was Arsenal's last chance of playing European football next season but Villarreal's 2-1 aggregate victory ensured their first Europa League final.
Arsenal had their chances to seal the 1-0 they needed to reach the final, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hitting the post twice and Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith Rowe both going close in the second half. But Arteta’s men were unable to break the stubborn Villareal defence and score the much-needed goal that would have been enough to see them go through to the finals especially after they netted the away goal in the first leg.
Arsenal’s hopes for European Qualification seems bleak this season following the semi-final defeat with the club currently placed ninth on the league table. It does looks like this will be the first time since 1995-96 that the Gunners have missed out on a European spot. With pressure piling on the Gunners, much remains to be seen on the outcome of a disastrous season as they look to close the gap on seventh-placed Liverpool in the race for the final European spot.
It saw Mikel Arteta admit that he and the club are devasted and disappointed with the result as the Spaniard rued his chances on a night which was supposed to be the turning point for the club's season but misplaced shots defined a night in which Arsenal had to be absolutely clinical and aggressive.
"We are devastated. Really disappointed. We have to congratulate Villarreal. We tried everything until the last minute. I think we deserved to win the game but the details define these ties. We had three big chances, they didn't have anything but they are through. So many things happened to us, and so many players were just trying to compete, not at their best, Arteta said, reported Goal.
"It changed our plan completely. We prepared everything with Granit in that position.n the first half we struggled with the ball but it's not an excuse. Too many important players had to define the game but not in their right moments.I think we were very imprecise with the ball. We were probably a bit tense. We were much more dominant in the second half.``
"The way we started in Villarreal wasn't good enough," he said. "We didn't arrive here in the best moment with everyone in their best condition. For 90% of them it was their first semi-final and we have to learn.The only way is through the Premier League so we know what we have ahead of us. Today is a big disappointment because we tried everything," he added.