Mikel Arteta admits he is bitterly disappointed with Arsenal’s exit from the Europa League after the Gunners squandered a first leg 1-0 advantage to go out on away goals after extra-time to Greek side Olympiacos.
The Gunners looked to have avoided an embarrassing slip up when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cancelled out Pape Abou Cisse’s header with seven minutes left of extra time. However, as the game edged to its conclusion Youssef El Arabi took advantage of abject defending to snatch a late winner on the night.
To compound the misery, there was still time at the end of 120 minutes for Aubameyang to squander a gift-wrapped chance that would have kept our European ambitions alive.
Unsurprisingly, Arteta was pretty downbeat after the game. “I’ve seen all the boys and I know how much they wanted this competition,” he told his post-game press conference.
“I’ve seen today the way they fight and the way we try to play and it’s a difficult one to digest as a team and as a club.
“This is football and sometimes it is very cruel when the emotions are right [up high], then in another moment they’re somewhere else. You have to able to handle that if you want to be in this industry so now it’s up to us and up to me to bring this place back in and move forward.
Despite a near full-strength side, Arsenal played from the off like a side that wished it wasn’t defending a first leg lead.
Rather than go for the jugular, we played well within ourselves and then grew nervous when the Greeks drew confidence from the fact they were still in the tie after the break.
Eventually, as legs grew tired, we manufactured more chances but our vulnerability on the break shone through.
“I think as the game went on, we were getting better and better and they were playing deeper and deeper,” reflected Arteta.
“We generated more than enough chances to win the game and we shouldn’t be talking about what happened now.
“I think we have enough goal threat in this team, but we have to put the chances to bed and in Europe it’s in both boxes. In the opponent’s box, we missed chances that should have been goals and in our box there were a few things that they had and they put them in. On the set-pieces we were vulnerable again so these are things to improve.
“Details are so important in ties. We gave details away that you cannot afford. Even if not in the opposition box, you have to be ruthless, and we weren’t tonight.”