Arteta ‘devastated’ by exit but Arsenal ‘deserved’ to beat Villarreal

Lewis Oldham
Arteta F365
Arteta Arsenal

Mikel Arteta was left feeling “really disappointed” after Arsenal exited the Europa League at the hands of Unai Emery’s Villarreal.

The first half at the Emirates proved to be quite tentative, which suited Villarreal down to the ground. The only big chance in the opening 45 minutes fell to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Unai Emery‘s men were unable to clear a corner from the Gunners in the 26th minute. The ball fell nicely for the forward but his effort with the outside of his foot bounced away off the post.

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Arsenal continued to pile forward in search of a goal in the second half. Aubameyang hit the post again in the 79th minute. He rose highest in the penalty area to meet Hector Bellerin’s cross but his header struck the inside of the woodwork.

Mikel Arteta’s side only had two shots on target in the game as Villarreal did well to keep them at bay to win 2-1 on aggregate. The Spanish outfit will face Manchester United in the Europa League final.

As cited by BBC Sport, Arteta said that the Gunners gave it everything until the last minute against Villarreal:

“We are devastated. Really disappointed. We have to congratulate Villarreal. We tried everything until the last minute. I think we deserved to win the game but the details define these ties.

“We had three big chances, they didn’t have anything but they are through. So many things happened to us, and so many players were just trying to compete not at their best.

“[Losing Granit Xhaka in the warm-up] changed our plan completely. We prepared everything with Granit in that position. In the first half we struggled with the ball but it’s not an excuse. Too many important players had to define the game but not in their right moments.

“I think we were very imprecise with the ball. We were probably a bit tense. We were much more dominant in the second half.

“The way we started in Villarreal wasn’t good enough. We didn’t arrive here in the best moment with everyone in their best condition. For 90% of them it was their first semi-final and we have to learn.

“The only way [to qualify for Europe] is through the Premier League so we know what we have ahead of us. Today is a big disappointment because we tried everything.”