Losing on penalties in a cup competition is never fun but if there’s a consolation for Arsenal this morning, it’s clarity on the fixture front heading into the final 10 weeks of the season.
Five points clear at the top of the table, the Gunners have 11 games left to seal a first Premier League title since 2004. There are no distractions.
In contrast, second-place Manchester City continue to fight for honours on three fronts.
That ‘advantage’ won’t be felt in the short term. After a damaging night at Emirates Stadium where Mikel Arteta lost two defenders to injury and saw several other players dragged through 120 minutes of football, there’s a need to regroup quickly before the squad disperses for the Interlull.
A win on Sunday against Crystal Palace will definitely lift the gloom although the Eagles are bound to make life difficult having just dispensed of Patrick Vieira.
“We have 11 finals to go and that’s it, that’s the main focus now,” Martin Odegaard told Arsenal.com.
“It starts already now in the dressing room to recover well and change the focus, so that’s what we have to do.”
“I guess some players are tired,” added the captain.
“The ones who played the whole game of course, but we’re going to recover well and make sure we come sharp for Sunday, that’s the only thing we can do now.
“We wanted to do something special in this tournament and so we’re disappointed. It’s done now, we can’t think too much about it, we have to move forward.”
Speaking to the Evening Standard, he added: “I think every time we have lost this season we have learned something from it. Every time we have come back and changed the situation again.
“That is what we are going to do again and the next game comes quick, so it’s a good opportunity to strike back. We talked about it already in the dressing room, we have to move forward now.
“We are always together, even if we lose. It’s been a good season, a lot of wins, but we have to be together in the tough moments as well. We have to show it [our mentality] now. It’s 11 finals for us.”
Arteta had the same message. “It’s a huge blow, but it brings clarity to the season,” he said.
“It’s 11 games to play for, 11 Premier League games, and a big final against Crystal Palace. The focus has to be there, the energy has to be there and learn from tonight.
“There’s nothing else, we played 120 minutes and emotionally it was a really demanding game, physically it was a really demanding game and it’s a shame because we wanted to give the crowd, who were superb today again, a different result.
“We haven’t done it, we have to learn from it, but the best thing is now the reaction and show the same commitment, more quality and play better against Palace to beat them.”