“We’re devastated” – Arteta reflects on Arsenal’s Europa League exit

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Mikel Arteta pinpointed injuries to key players, including the last-minute absence of Granit Xhaka, as defining factors in Arsenal’s Europa League exit at the hands of Villarreal.

Needing a goal to progress to the final, the Gunners produced a very limp performance in attack as they were held to a 0-0 draw at the Emirates by former boss Unai Emery. 

Here’s what the boss had to say when he faced the BT Sport cameras…

On how he feels…

We are devastated, really disappointed. We have to congratulate Villarreal, they are in the final. We tried everything until the last minute. I think over the two legs and what happened today in the second half, I think we deserved to win the game. The details defined these ties. When we had the opportunities, we didn’t score. We hit the post twice. We had three big chances, they didn’t have anything but they are through. The in final moment, you should have everything available and at their best and so many things happened to us and so many players were just trying to be able to be competing but they weren’t at their best. That’s a big disadvantage.

On Xhaka’s injury affecting his game plan…

It changed our game plan completely because we prepared everything with Granit in the position [left-back], that would have given us so much. You could see in the first half we were struggling with the ball trying to do what we wanted to do, but there are no excuses. It is what it is. So many players injured, one with malaria, one out, another one pulling out, it’s too many important players who had to define the game not at their best in the right moments.

On the team struggling to impose themselves…

We were very imprecise with the ball. The process at the back wasn’t clean and then everything is much more difficult. Probably, we were a bit tense as well. When we changed a few things we got better, we were more dominant in the second half, much more dominant and created enough chances – more than them – over the two ties, but not enough to win it. 

On whether Arsenal were overrun in midfield…

I don’t think so. 

On whether Aubameyang had enough service…

Again, in the first half, probably not because the whole process in the build-up was not good enough to get in good situations with an advantage into the final third. In the second half, it was much better but we didn’t manage to get the goal. 

On the key reason for the defeat…

It’s various things. The way we started the game in Villarreal wasn’t good enough. Set pieces, we conceded at a set-piece that in the end determines the tie and we talked about that. Then again, we didn’t arrive here with everybody in top condition like we did last year when we played semi-finals and finals. Over the two legs, we weren’t at our best for those reasons. 

On a lack of experience…

We had a really young team. For 90% of them, it was the first semi-final of any competition. We have to learn from that. 

On whether Europe is out of reach…

Last year we had to earn our way to Europe in a different way by winning the FA Cup. This year, the only way to do it is through the Premier League so we know what we have ahead of us. 

On whether he feels the pressure is on him…

I feel the pressure all the time because I want to do as good as I can for the team, for every supporter I have here and for our fans. Today is a big disappointment because we tried everything to be in that final. 

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john

What’s going on in Arsenal Midfield, every player we sign becomes shit!
Thomas Partey was awful today!

Henkamp

No balance there.

Atom

Playing a 1 man midfield doesn’t help.

Ealing

He wasn’t good, but a one man midfield was not the right tactic

Vonnie

So was Martin Odegaard, our best midfielder is still Granit Xhaka, and the youngsters of course.

Rich

He’s been largely awful since we signed him, not just tonight

He’s so lackadaisical on the ball, he makes hard things look easy, and easy things looking difficult

Tombo

What was he supposed to do. He was on his own and asked to bring the ball out against a 3 man press.

Ashburton Red

Good point – and why are our managers all blind to it!
Painful.
Especially as AMN and Willock are both out on loan, and probably heading for the exit

SB Still

What does that tell you player or coaching or tactics at fault?

Adam

Am I missing something or wasn’t our midfield kind of functioning when Partey and granit was in there. I know today he got injured but why so stubborn about putting him in left back? Has dropped everything for that idea

The Arsenal

The man is a bullshit Pep. Has the same flaw of overthinking but without the eventual resolution.
Emery Knows our midfield cant run for shit…The simple tactic of having that Foyth kid (spurs reject) carry the ball forward with purpose in the first leg was enough to outfox Arteta. Who was trying out some weird left side of the pitch Pythagoras theorems with Xhaxa Ceballos and whoever was wide left.

Hank Scorpio

No you are not missing something. That is the only decent pairing of currently available central midfielders. The left back thing was totally crazy. We lost any drive coming from that position, lost defensive solidity and lost our only decent midfield combination.

The Arsenal

Midfield has been shocking since Wenger decided to buy Xhaxa over Kante and didnt get Mahrez over the line.
Then we were 4-0 up against Ludogorets at home. He decides to leave Xhaxa on the bench until Cazorla who was our most influential player pulled up with the infamous Achilles injury, which he went into the game with and Wenger knew. The rest is history.

Luther

Allow me to correct you.
Wenger never “decided to buy Xhaxa over Kante”; Kante chose Chelsea – and presumably, their money – over us. And Cazorla didn’t go into that Ludogorets with an achilles injury, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to play. It may be true that he was a slight risk which didn’t pay off, but then again, you could just be making shit up there as well.
Typical W.O.B. – getting all facts wrong!

Atom

Well Kante certainly chose well then given he’s won a couple of titles & is playing in a CL final vs what’s been a very serious and steady decline under Wenger & now his replacements.

The Arsenal

I would have Wenger back now. He made strange decisions before the end mostly going against the type of player that he used to go for and what made him successful.
What i said was off the top of my head feel free to dispute what i said with facts/opinion but dont accuse me of being or WOB or any other foolishness. You dont know me.

A P

And Leicester didn’t want to sell Mahrez to Arsenal. Write better fiction next time.

Ealing

The details of the Kanye, Santi and Mahrez choice/fate may be incorrect, but the problem was clear, we needed a fast defensive midfielder but got Xhaka, we never replaced Santi, ( waiting 2 years got him to get back)

The Arsenal

Mahrez wanted to come.

A P

And his club refused to deal. Understand?

Atom

Well since they sold him to Citeh that season it seems pretty clear they were willing to deal

Vonnie

They sold him the season afterwards, they wouldn’t budge when we wanted him, he was reportedly annoyed because he wanted to come.

atom

We wanted him in 16 & were blocked. We also were rumored to want him as a replacement for Alexis in the winter of 18. City would buy Alexis & we would buy Mahrez. Instead we swapped Alexis to Man U & City ended up buying Mahrez that summer (after having 4 bids rejected in the winter).

A P

You must have arrived from a parallel universe.

atom

Could you at least try to be clever? 99% of your comments are just insulting people but you don’t even manage to do it in a manner that’s remotely thoughtful or witty.

ASH

#ArtetaOut

Qwertymonster

Partey was not bad. You have to account for the fact that we played only 1 player in midfield.

Boywonder

Nah no excuses anymore .. arteta flopped in the first leg trying to be too smart playing a false 9 and in this game he plays with one on midfield for no reason as tierny was back..
takes of auba with 10 mins to go .. never mind the fact the whole game was played as if it was a pre season friendly .. one of the worst performances in a big game vs a very average team I’ve ever seen.

Henkamp

Get in an experienced coach to stabilise this sinking ship! I wouldn’t mind an Ancellotti at this rate. With no European football for us next season, he can drill us into a top 4 team.

Maybe a couple of years to stabilise the team before we start looking at the future.

DB10s airmiles

I would’ve taken him instead of arteta. Why would he even consider leaving Everton to come to us?

RedNWhite

The only way this club stops rotting is to get rid of the Kroenkes. I don’t care if you bring in Klopp or Pep, no manager is going to be successful with Kroenkes ownership. They don’t give a fuck about the club or the results. They hire people that are here for money, no one at the top of this club thinks about anything besides self serving needs. The Kroenkes are parasites and we will be relegated if they stick around, give it time and watch the decay grow further. We’re not much better than Newcastle before they were relegated… Read more »

The Arsenal

At this point i would bring in Benitez who is looking for a return to the prem. He would be a good manager to gut this squad with no prior feelings.

Wolsty

Agreed mate, had the debate with a group of Gooners last night and was laughed at saying he’s a has been…. so we tried an experienced Mgr in Emery, didn’t work, trying an inexperienced Mgr, not working… so Rafa IMHO can’t do any worse than the previous 2 Mgrs. He knows the Prem, he knows Europe. The biggest issue is the Ownership and the Board which unfortunately won’t change anytime soon. Even if the Kroenkes chuck money at the job who is going to come to Arsenal with no Europe carrot?. If Arteta stays then build around the kids and… Read more »

Luther

Bring back Arsene Wenger!
If HE would take us back.

PeteyB

Deffo feels like something of a sliding doors moment 18 months ago. Sometimes I feel that Anchellotti would have suited us very well, and Arteta could have done a decent job at Everton with a little less pressure, and a similar amount of good sentiment from fans.

Guy Incognito

“ with Granit in the position [left-back], that would have given us so much. “
lol at least you still have a sense of humour, Mikel.
Given us so much what, exactly? Actually I rather not know.

Keni

I read to that part and actually just stopped reading. Does he (Arteta) think we’re clueless? What exactly does xhaka offer at LB that’s ‘so much’?

Amusa

Your shite tactics contributed big time. You took our only real threat off for Willian.
Fuck off.

Daveo

“Hello arsenal my old friend,
we’ve come to an impasse again,
The arsenal fans are weeping
our boys por players care not a bleeping
And this club that I love in great and brain,
It remains
With the kroenkes… Let’s break our silence …”

Daveo

Boss and *

Daveo

Heart and brain… Go easy on he. I’m drunk and weeping.

Baichung Bhutia

I thought he spoke like someone who knows he has time to correct any mistakes and there will be no pressure on him.

Alex

90% in their first semi?
Leno?
Auba?
Xhaka?
Bellerin?

That’s 40% already

Alex

I’m devastated too and I wasn’t even paid

branderson

He says “no excuses” and then spends the entire interview listing excuses. I’m over it.

Goodly morning

“Non negotiables” … he’s an utter windbag.

Gervinho is Driving

Don’t really care what the manager says anymore. He is always comes across as honest and analytical and accepts responsibility, but the football is shit.

Cechmate

Analytical, really? Imagine what would have happened if Emery had said that we lost the match, as the first choice LB had to be played over the back up LB, who almost got sent off last match in that position??!!!

Johnny Gooner

If Arteta genuinely thinks we should have won any of those two games, I’m really quite worried.

Alex

He is the same who said he doesn’t need Özil.

Merlin’s Panini

He’s not exactly pulling up trees at Fenerbahce is he. With or without him we’d still be shit.

Bort

My thoughts exactly. If he’s being honest.. welp doesn’t look good at all

Aprilfool

He’s lost his goddamn mind if he genuinely believes we deserved to win. We were shit. Of the three big chances, two just happened to fall to us and one was a hopeful cross that Auba did well to win. I can recall at least a few genuine saves that Leno had to make. To say nothing of the fact that they should’ve killed us off in the first leg. So no, we didn’t deserve to go through, Mikel. At least admit as much if you want us to believe you’re halfway qualified to carry on as manager. To lose… Read more »

Ealing

I can’t understand the downvotes

Badaab

all of pep’s ego with none of the results

Javier

We have patience for this man at our helm, but not Wenger. You reap what you sow.

SB Still

Excuses!

A midfielder playing out of position at LB was the main reason for today’s lack of goals. The same midfielder did play as LB in the 1st leg but we still lost and it was the known area of weakness- speed, that the opposition targeted!

So many players played out of position. We were running out of time and ideas but we didn’t utilise the 5 subs, early enough to try harder.

Bort

Yeah, “no excuses… But we had injuries and malaria and if xhaka had played lb we would have won” wtf?

rhal

Once more he puts the blame on not scoring goals, but says nothing about how poorly his team was setup for this. The “we deserved a win” narrative is really different to how honest he was in the first months. It’s sad how quickly Arteta has fallen. The type of coach we need today would have said: this is on me. Instead, he insists on sharing the blame with the poorly coached players. Let’s hope next season can get better, anyhow.

Sheldon

Abramovich preserved Lampards legendary status by realising he was out of his depth and putting him out of his misery quickly. Kroenke is going to make us hate Arteta

assistantref

Eh, not like Arteta was ever an Arsenal legend to begin with. Good player and well-liked, don’t get me wrong, but not a legend.

Bort

Agreed, but point still stands, we all at least liked him, now his reputation is going down, fast. Kinda like the team

StockholmGooner

Wait, his plan was to use Xhaka in left back so it would’ve basically been the same mistake as the first game?? Xhaka gave us so much when we scraped a 2-1 defeat and badly needed a proper midfielder.
Today I want this failed manager out. I know that hey he spent a season doing his mistakes,.. well he doesn’t learn from them that’s the problem. If he was learning from them then fine.. but he just outed himself saying he was gonna play Xhaka LB.

David C

And don’t forget one of their main threats went off injured too. You don’t wish that on anybody but we should have capitalized.

Heisenbird

“Thank you for flying Arsenal Airlines. You have reached your destination. Welcome to Mediocrity. Please remember to set your watches back 25 years.”

A P

Do we have a good manager coming in, like 25 years ago?

Toure Motors

Depressing stuff and depressing comments afterwards. I don’t have any faith left in artetas ability to get what’s needed out of this team, or to bring in new players to change things up (even if the funds were available). Is it harsh to say that the only thing that arteta has over Emery is that arteta is a better communicator in English?

Osaz

Even if arteta sign great players like Messi and Ronaldo to this team, he will still struggle because, the problem isn’t the players but the coach who so stubborn and clueless

Ealing

That’s a fair comment, Emery is more astute than Arteta but neither is / was a good fit for us

CroArse

Massimiliano “Max” Allegri??? Is he the right answer for us now?

Osaz

He’s a money coach, and we’re very rich at the moment.. “sarcasm”

The transcription of the interview unfortunately doesn’t illustrate Arteta’s emotions when he was speaking. The man sounded uneasy and his voice was breaking after every sentence.

It’s either he was screaming in the changing room or he’s feeling very nervous about his job.

We’ll find out soon enough because one way or another, these delusional post-match speeches can’t continue

Vonnie

He looked and sounded genuinely gutted to be honest. One thing about Mikel is that he genuinely does care.

CLEGOONER

Who cares? Just words.

heihaci

Arteta can go back to picking up cones for Pep!

David Hilliers Arm Cast

I would love to know why there was no urgency in the teams play. Until the last ten minutes they looked like they were in cruise control and it was infuriating.

This isn’t working.

Ealing

It’s hard to dictate tempo when you got a one man midfield pressed / surrounded by 2 – players.

Snc

Time to rebuild.. we can’t go on like this esp w no European games nx season.

A P

Good players want to play in European game. Fat hope attracting good players. The Arsenal/AW aura is waning fast, I am not sure if any remains.

Santori

Too many people prefer to see what they want to see rather than what was in front of them. The warning signs were there already with Arteta. Unai deemed not good enough but he pulled one over Arteta today with a far more humble squad and is on to another europa finals. Then in league we have Leicester, West Ham, Everton even Villa likely ahead of us. Again far more frugal assets. Ancelotti took over same time as Arteta and with a squad that had many issues. Arteta as I mentioned way before Unai was even appointed was a risk… Read more »

Santori

The same shit goes for how many fans prefer to view players. They seem to have a good wank on every new player coming in whilst unduely targeting certain pet hates. Case in point today Coquelin who came up with a game saving block for Villareal late on against Bellerin. Or the absence of Xhaka today much missed with quick long release on left. Instead we reverted to ponderous build up playing around our 6 yard box. We don’t score playing in our half. If anything we risk a mistake and conceding. then going up field we take 4 or… Read more »

N85

We are at a real crossroads now.

We have Gab, Tierney, Partey, Pepe, Saka, ESR, Martinelli, Saliba….these guys aren’t gonna stick around playing shite football and accepting mediocrity. Sterling finds himself on the bench at City too much, decides to go…..who better to replace him than Saka? Tierney didn’t leave his boyhood club playing CL football and winning the league every year for this bollocks etc etc etc.

What happens next will probably define us for rest of this decade…buckle up for bumpy ride!

Ealing

Our only chance of a resurgence by playing / generating money from the loanees , get rid of deadwood and get the right manager for project youth mark two. We have a better crop of academy players. massive purposeful investments over a couple of 2-3 seasons is the only other alternative, but that’s wishful thinking with kse

Cicero

I’m honestly not devastated.

We’d most likely have been killed by ManU and I’ve long since accepted the fact that we are utterly mediocre.

The Arsenal

I want to know why we have failed to score in TEN homegames.

CarlosLA

As a Yank, let me say this is what it is like supporting a crap American club. Most American clubs are poorly run, but the owners continue to get rich b/c they are owners in a cartel, of “content” of increasing value (one of the last things on TV people still watch live) and because there is no relegation, there’s little incentive to run a competent club. In most the of the American sports leagues, there are 8-10 really well run clubs trying to win, innovating, competing for every marginal advantage… there are 8-10 absolutely shambolic clubs happy to sweat… Read more »

Magazine_Gap

But he won’t, will he? Kroenke is a parasite, who has been using his UK soccer franchise (shudder) as collateral for his other shit franchises.

CarlosLA

I’m not sure what you mean by using as collateral. According to Forbes, the values of his teams are: Rams: $4B (bought for $750M in 2010… not a bad return!) Nuggets: $1.65B (bought for $202M in 2000… ditto) Avs: $465M (bought for 202 in 2000) I would guess that Rams valuation is quite conservative vs what he could sell for. But Silent Stan is not a seller. These are ideal assets to hold. Incredible run up in value, generate a ton of cash, easy to take debt against. Btw, NFL teams turn over very rarely. With 32 teams, there have… Read more »

jonahthan

Leno has shown his best today during Europa League semi-final. Goalkeepers need to get places up or down. sometimes to step up and save at front and sometimes to wait in goal. Arsenal unlucky today.

Magazine_Gap

“tRuSt In ThE pRoCeSs”

Yawn.

Cechmate

Why do I read “rest in peace” when I see your comment??!! Weird

Osaz

And who is to be blamed for inept? me? It’s YOU! Because you have no business being a football coach, left alone managing the premier arsenal.the problem is not even the players nor the club, but you. The players are not world beaters but they are good enough to finish in a respectable league position and dispatch Villarreal with aplom with a averagely sound coach. Arteta,u single handedly bastardized this beautiful football club in less than two years and unai that was rejected is a comfortable a better coach than will ever be. Thank you for the disappointment.

Javoroncov

Shut up and fuck off.

Jack4343

You were the chosen one! You were supposed to bring balance to our squad, not leave it in disarray! *ignites light saber*

Cyprus The Immortal Gooner

So Xhaka at LB would have saved the day? WTF? Is he so out of touch with reality due to the pressure?

Lula

Too slow on the ball. It was like our game plan was to start attacking only when Villarreal got their players back. I believe both Wenger and Emery would have done better in this game. We have a bad manager.

benjmin

We are devastated too Mr Arteta, The Whole Season

Shambles

It’s ironic that our home form has been rubbish this season. Some people swore that every bad result at home was because of ungrateful fans in the stadium

Qwaliteee

Some people will blame anything and everything apart from the root cause of our problems – the way the team are managed and the way the club is run.

KROENKE OUT
ARTETA OUT

Mootilated

oh no… you know your downfall is beginning when they bring up the ‘pressure’ question.

Qwaliteee

‘We’re devastated.’ I thought you were ‘excited.’ Guess what, Mikel, I’m inclined to feel ‘devastated’ because you and your boss will still be here next season – although this morning all I feel is a detached contempt. As detached and in contempt as I’ve ever felt for this club that I’ve loved and supported for half a century. If you felt even remotely ‘devastated’, as you claim, then you’d do the decent thing and resign. But you, your boss and this pathetic excuse for Arsenal Football Club, are far from decent these days. If ever a football club was like… Read more »

A P

Did anyone ask Arteta and those who parrot him what the process was when he said ‘Trust the process’?

SarcasmB0t

“We’re devastated.”

No Mikel, we’re mediocre. Largely thanks to you.

If Xhaka at left back is the answer, the question is when you’re getting fired.

You’re clearly not man enough to leave on your own.

pisspoor

where else would such failure be rewarded with another go next season??? if he stays it just highlights the ownerships satisfaction with mediocracy.

Simelitoo

I miss Arsene Wenger.

Greg

Arteta’s stubbornness will be his eventual undoing. Surely he can see his tactics in retrospect were totally wrong last night? Why not play Elneny next to Partey? Elneny is not the greatest, but would’ve provided defensive solidity and maybe would have allowed us to press higher.

The amount of times their keeper just had the ball under his foot and no Arsenal player to press him drove me mad!

For the rest of this season – do what Koemann has done at barca – play all the young guns – play 4-3-3 and let them play without fear.

Martin Macken

Did Arteta watch the same game as I did?? How did we have everything except goals, and they had nothing??

How would playing Xhaka at LB change the whole game? Hasn’t he watch Xhaka at LB over the last few games? Did he really provide the attacking threat we needed yesterday?

Either Arteta is a complete football genius and sees things way beyond my league, or he is just completly delusional. Either way, it’s not working out.

Philip Visser

Arteta after every single loss “I think over the two legs and what happened today in the second half, I think we deserved to win the game.”

He should but perhaps he doesn’t get it – you only “deserve” to win if you score more goals than the other side. He now has to seriously look at himself as a major part of the problem and not offer BS undeserved explanations.