Mikel Arteta admitted Arsenal were ‘devastated’ and insisted his team deserved to progress after a 0-0 draw with Villarreal saw them miss out on a Europa League final showdown with Manchester United.
The Gunners dominated the second period at Emirates Stadium but could not find the goal to avoid semi-final heartache and overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit, leaving Arteta to admit his side came up short.
“We are devastated, really disappointed,” said Arteta. “We have to congratulate Villarreal because they are in the final. We tried everything up until the last minute.
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Over two legs, and what happened today in the second half, we deserved to win the game. The details decide these ties and we had opportunities but didn’t score. We had big chances and they didn’t have anything, but they are through.
Arsenal were forced to replace Granit Xhaka with the recovering Kieran Tierney after the Swiss star suffered a problem in the warm-up and Arteta pointed to injuries and an overall defensive naivety as the reasons for their failure to reach the final.
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He said: “The way we started in Villarreal wasn’t good enough. We conceded at a set piece. Then again we didn’t arrive here in the best moment with everyone in top condition like we did last year when we played semi-finals and finals, to be at our best and, over two legs, we weren’t at our best for that reason.
We have a really young team. For most of them this is their first semi-final of any competition and we have to learn from that.
Arsenal’s hopes of maintaining a 25-season run of appearing in European competition are now under threat with the Gunners languishing in ninth place in the Premier League. Asked if he feels under pressure, Arteta added: I feel the pressure all of the time because I want to do as much as good as I can for the team, for every support that I have here and for our fans. Today is a big disappointment because we tried everything to be in the final.”
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