Mikel Arteta has called Arsenal’s next Premier League game ‘a final’ after the club exited the Europa League to Sporting Lisbon.
Arsenal bowed out of Europe in the last 16 after a penalty shootout defeat to the Portuguese side at the Emirates, following a 3-3 draw across two legs. Granit Xhaka had put the Gunners in control of the tie, but a speculative effort from Pedro Goncalves caught Aaron Ramsdale out to equalise for the visitors.
The two teams could not be separated in extra-time, before Antonio Adan saved Gabriel Martinelli’s spot-kick to send Sporting into the quarter-finals.
Arsenal’s focus now turns to their Premier League title challenge with the Gunners five-points clear at the top of the division. The north Londoners can extend that advantage this weekend with Manchester City in FA Cup action and Arteta has called the club’s clash with Crystal Palace ‘a final’.
“We didn’t win enough duels in certain spaces. We didn’t put the ball under pressure well enough. We gave the ball away consistently and it created a really open game we didn’t want to play,” Arteta said on his side’s defeat to Sporting, as per the BBC.
“We just have to look at ourselves and why we were not good enough to go through. Our next game with Crystal Palace is a final.
“We’ve been carrying injuries throughout the season, but we dealt with it. The disappointment is not going to go away it’s there now. But there’s also a clarity.
“It’s 11 games to go now and we have a final against Crystal Palace. We have to recover and put all the focus there and win.”
Arsenal’s disappointing evening was added to by injury issues, as Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba were substituted in the first half. Arteta described Tomiyasu’s problem as ‘pretty serious’, while the Gunners will be hoping for more positive news regarding Saliba’s complaint.
“Tomiyasu looks pretty serious, for his reaction straight away and what he said to me.
“Obviously, it’s very early and difficult to know. William, I don’t know. He had some discomfort and could not carry on, so we had to take him off.”
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