Despite knowing matters were out of Arsenal’s hands, there’s no doubt Mikel Arteta was disappointed not to seal a place in Europe on the final day of the season.
While the Gunners eased past Brighton 2-0 at the Emirates, Sp*rs’ late fightback at Leicester ensured it’s our neighbours who’ll take part in the inaugural Europa Conference League come August.
Facing the press one final time for the season, Arteta reflected: “We’re disappointed we’re not in Europe. We’ve made progress on last year in terms of points, 61 points last year would have got you fifth. But it shows the level and as well where the league is developing and the level we need to get to.
“I knew what was happening [between Sp*rs and Leicester] but they were still playing when we came inside from the game. It wasn’t in our hands. We tried to do our best winning the last five games but it wasn’t enough.”
While many believe the extra time on the training ground will stand Arsenal in good stead next season, the boss skirted a question about taking positives from the situation.
“I leave the season sad because this club deserves to be delivering trophies and the Champions League and we haven’t managed to do that.
“Under very challenging circumstances we’ve tried to stick together and do our best. It’s not been enough, now we have to be very critical, including myself.
“Then next season we have to prepare the best possible way and take advantage of that. Hopefully, we can have a pre-season and time to work with the players and try to be a better team.”
He continued the theme when asked if the Gunners need to have a busy summer in the transfer market to compete with the clubs above them.
“They’re going to get better and they’re going to strengthen, so we need to get better,” he said.
“First of all, we have to get our players better, more consistent and help them to improve.
“Our way of playing, our philosophy, I think, is in place. They buy into that and now is the moment to take it to the next level, to improve that and improve our consistency because since December to now, we’ve shown that we’re the second or third-best team in the league. It’s not enough. Six months, the level is high, so we need to do that for 10 months.”
Today’s match was watched by Josh Kroenke, who travelled in from the US to take in a first match in the flesh in over a year.
Asked what the American, whose father owns the club, had said to him, Arteta replied: “The same that he says every time we’re on the phone. He’s very supportive, very passionate about the club and he wants to take the club to a different level and he has ambition. That’s why he’s here.”
KSE have certainly taken us to a different level since they got involved with the club. Unfortunately, that’s down, not up.