Arteta ‘devastated’ after Arsenal’s Europa League exit

Mikel Arteta admitted
he was “devastated” after being outwitted by his predecessor, Unai Emery, as
Villarreal knocked Arsenal out of the Europa League at the Emirates.

Villarreal came back to haunt Arsenal as the Spanish side
held out for a 0-0 draw on Thursday to set up a Europa League final against
Manchester United with a 2-1 victory on aggregate.

Defeat means the Gunners will miss out on Champions League
football for a fifth consecutive season with the pressure building on Emery’s
successor Mikel Arteta.

Sitting ninth in the Premier League, Arsenal are now on the
verge of failing to qualify for European football for the first time in 26
years.

“We are devastated,” said Arteta. “We tried
everything until the last minute. I think we deserved to win the game but the
details define these ties.”

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang twice hit the post for Arsenal,
while Emile Smith Rowe sliced a glorious chance wide early in the second-half.

“We had three big chances, they didn’t have anything
but they are through,” added Arteta, who was forced into a last minute
reshuffle when Granit Xhaka picked up an injury in the warm-up.

“So many things happened to us, and so many players were just trying to compete not at their best.”

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Villarreal’s first European final prevented a clean sweep
for Premier League sides across the Champions League and Europa League.

The Yellow Submarine will take on United in Gdansk on May
26, three days before Manchester City face Chelsea in the Champions League
final on May 29.

That clash will be Emery’s fifth Europa League final, having
won the competition three times with Sevilla and taking Arsenal to the final in
his only full season in charge at the Emirates.

The Spaniard was sacked after just 18 months as Arsene
Wenger’s successor, but again showed his experience at this level by guiding
his side through despite vastly inferior resources to his former club.

“I’m very proud because we know it is very important
for us and Arsenal are a very good team,” said Emery.

“Today we are thinking to enjoy this moment and then we
prepare the match against Manchester United.

“We deserve to play this final and we will show our
best performance. We want to fight against Manchester for this title.”

Dani Parejo’s free-kick that dipped onto the roof of the net
was Villarreal’s most dangerous effort as they controlled the first-half
without threatening to score the vital away goal.

It was Arsenal who came closest to scoring before the break
when Aubameyang’s strike with the outside of his right foot came back off the
post.

Arsenal started the second period with far greater intent
and wasted two huge chances to edge ahead on away goals.

Firstly, Nicolas Pepe dragged his shot wide from Kieran
Tierney’s inventive flick before Smith Rowe also failed to hit the target with
the goal gaping as Geronimo Rulli flapped at a cross.

Aubameyang has had a difficult season since signing a bumper
three-year contract in September that reportedly made him the highest paid
player in the Premier League.

The Arsenal captain has only recently returned from a spell
out with malaria, but was inches away from proving his worth as his header came
back off the inside of the post and bounced to safety 10 minutes from time.

Arteta’s decision to remove Aubameyang moments later will be
questioned as the home side rarely threatened in the closing stages to end
their season with a whimper.

“He was outsmarted by the previous manager, which is a
bit of an embarrassment,” said former Arsenal defender Martin Keown.

Author: desi123

Desi123.com is an online news portal that aims to provide the latest trendy news for Asians living in Asia and around the World.

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