A tumultuous Premier League campaign will finish on Sunday with Arsenal finishing outside of the European qualification places for 25 years.
Last night’s 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa ended any slim chance of Europa League football next season by virtue of our final league position, although the Gunners can still make it by beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final on August 1st.
Mikel Arteta, the club’s third manager of the season, spoke frankly afterwards, about where we are, what we need to do to sort things out, and how it’s simply not acceptable for Arsenal to finish outside the top 6 at a bare minimum.
“At the end of the day, the league table doesn’t lie and we know the gap that we have to fill in,” he said.
“It has to hurt and we have to suffer because it is not good enough for this football club.
“That’s why we have to put it right, we have a challenge that is really big and we are facing it and we are really excited about what we have ahead of us.
“We need to transmit this enthusiasm and passion because they’re going to be some ups and down, unfortunately.
“Today is a down but sometimes it is good to see the reality and then go again and move on and improve.”
The lack of a creative spark was obvious – as outlined in today’s Arseblog – but it’s something the manager feels can be improved.
Asked how, he said, “Training, time and understanding the spaces. Where they are, how we can provoke them, where we need the bodies and the areas that we have to attack.
“And then a little bit in the first half I felt that we didn’t have the urgency with the ball. In the second half it was much better, we controlled the transitions much better as well, but it wasn’t enough.”
The continued absence of Mesut Ozil was another line of questioning, but Arteta was more keen to focus on the collective than one individual.
“We played other games as well [without Ozil] and the answer is not just a player, it is a collective of patterns that have to happen,” he insisted.
“We did really well in certain ways but the end product of the final ball wasn’t good enough and the last chance that we had hit the post. But this is football.”
Arsenal’s final league game of the season sees us host Watford at the Emirates, and it will feel good to draw a line under this campaign, and hopefully we can start to see real improvement next time around after some important transfer work has been done.