Mikel Arteta has said that injuries played a large part in Arsenal’s end-of-season downturn that saw them miss out on the title.
Arsenal led the Premier League from the off in what was a sensational season of improvement from the Gunners, only to see their title hopes evaporate at the business end of the season, picking up just 12 points from their last nine games.
“To this day, it still hurts me deeply, not having won the Premier (League) after spending 10 months fighting with City,” Arteta told Spanish publication, Marca. “But that’s the sport. That said, what has been achieved with such a young team is worthwhile. That is clear to me too.”
Arsenal were still at the top of the table at the beginning of April, though consecutive draws against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton, followed by a defeat to Manchester City, saw the Gunners’ lead cut to just two points, before Pep Guardiola’s side eventually overhauled that advantage on the way to winning the treble.
Arteta blamed a number of injuries on his side’s end-of-season downturn, as well as the quality of their title rivals.
“Those three draws in a row that we had penalised us, and all the misfortunes that happened. There were three or four injuries to important players and from there, everything got complicated.
“When we had the full team, we were consistent. As soon as problems came, it didn’t reach us. And then our rival was the best team in the world, the best squad in the world, the best coach in the world. We had no choice but to accept it and shake hands with the champion.”
Asked if he saw himself winning the Premier League title, Arteta said: “In many moments. The team gave me arguments and we had a connection with the people. It was believed in.
“But when we started to have injuries, I felt that it was going to cost us. The level of demand could not be maintained. If you want to win the Premier League against City, you have to get to April-May with all the players available and at their best. And we, due to injuries, did not get to that.”