Arsenal crashes out of Europa League after penalty shootout
Arsenal 1-1 Sporting (Agg 3-3; 3-5 on pens)
The Gunners were eliminated from the Europa League in the last 16, following a nail-biting penalty shootout at Emirates Stadium. The match was filled with intense drama as Arsenal conceded a spectacular 46-yard equaliser, endured several injuries and ultimately left empty-handed.
According to Mikel Arteta, Takehiro Tomiyasu’s injury appears to be quite serious, as the Arsenal player was seen leaving on crutches. Furthermore, William Saliba was substituted early in the game due to a suspected back issue.
With Arsenal currently leading the Premier League by five points, crashing out of the Europa League may prove to be a blessing in disguise.
After a gruelling 120-minute match it went to penalties. Gabriel Martinelli’s spot-kick was saved in the shootout, ending a run of six games undefeated in all competitions for the Gunners.
‘Disappointment not going away’
Arteta described the defeat as “a huge blow” given their efforts over two fiercely competitive legs.
“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.
“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.”
Sole focus is now on Premier League title
Arsenal have a five-point lead in the PL and many fans would rather see a Premier League title over any other.
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard, who came on as a substitute in extra time, said they did not “play their best”, and their focus now switches solely to the Premier League title.
“We have to remember it’s been a great season,” said Odegaard.
“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. When we’re winning everyone is happy, when we lose we have to pick up the spirit.”