Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has issued an apology to fans following Thursday’s disappointing exit from the Europa League.
With the Gunners languishing in 10th in the Premier League, the result leaves the club with only a slim chance of qualifying for Europe next season.
Should they miss out, it will be the first time that they’ve been absent from continental competition in 25 years.
Writing in Arsenal’s official matchday programme ahead of the clash with West Bromwich Albion, Aubameyang tried to dissect what exactly went wrong, before revealing how deeply the failure has affected him and his teammates.
“We struggled to find our rhythm in the first-half and didn’t give Villarreal enough problems,” he said.
“When we had a chance, the luck wasn’t there for us, when I hit the post with the volley and then the header in the second half.
“I thought we started the second half with more energy and put them under pressure, but we just couldn’t maintain that drive and ultimately, we just couldn’t find a way through Villarreal.
“I thought my header was in when it hit the post, but it just wasn’t going to happen.
“Like I said, we are really upset about going out of the competition at this stage, for ourselves, for the club, and most of all for you the supporters. It’s been such a difficult season for fans and we desperately wanted to give you something positive this season – I’m just so sorry we couldn’t do it for you.”
Arteta, meanwhile, has called for a response, urging his players to lift their chins up off the floor and put the past behind them.
“We have four games left this season, and now is not the time to make conclusions from this year yet,” he said.
“We need to look ahead. Yes, on Thursday we had to swallow a huge disappointment for everybody but we had a terrific run in the competition with the very difficult teams that we had.
“Now we have another home game today and our responsibility is to go and win these remaining Premier League games and give us a chance to see where we finish.”