Arteta slams Arsenal players and issues cry after Sporting Lisbon exit

Arsenal v Sporting CP – Pictures

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has spoken out after his side exited the Europa League on Thursday night. After goals from Granit Xhaka and Pedro Gonclaves, Gabriel Martinelli missed the crucial spot-kick in the penalty shootout. And it means the Gunners have now failed to win a European competition once again.

Arsenal had gone into the game with Sporting knowing victory would see them through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

They got off to the perfect start through Xhaka, with the Switzerland international firing them ahead in the 19th minute.

However, a stunning strike from Pedro Gonclaves drew Sporting level – sparking wild celebrations among the away fans in the process.

And, in the shootout, Martinelli then fluffed his lines – with goalkeeper Antonio Adan parrying his effort to safety.

Arteta spoke to BT Sport in the direct aftermath of the fixture and slammed the way they performed during the course of the game. 

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“A huge blow obviously,” he said of his side’s elimination. “There were moments in the first 75 minutes where we weren’t at our level.

“We gave every ball away and we didn’t have the capacity to take the game.

“There were chances to win it in extra-time. There was a lot of uncertainty with the pens. It was a very difficult game.

“We didn’t win enough duals 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.

“Injuries happened with Tomiyasu and Saliba. We are really restricted with the changes because we only have one window to do one and we didn’t have the subs left.

“We had big chances to finish the game off.

“We just have to look at ourselves and why we were not good enough to go through.

“We congratulate Sporting and now we have 11 games. Our next game with Palace is a final.

“Every work we do right now has to be towards Palace and we have to be better than in this game.”

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard also addressed the defeat.

And he said: “I think we did enough in some periods of the game but most of the game we weren’t on the level we should be.

“We didn’t play our best football. It was a tight game in the end, it could have gone both ways.

“They are a good team, we knew that, we were prepared.

“It was more about us today, we didn’t play the way we normally do with the same energy we normally do. Now we have to look forward.

“We have to remember it’s been a great season, it’s a big blow to go out of this competition.

“But now we look forward to the league, that’s all we can do now.

“We win and lose together. It doesn’t matter.

“When we’re winning everyone is happy, when we lose we have to pick up the spirit.

“We win and lose together.”

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