Bernd Leno reveals how the Arsenal players reacted to Europa League defeat vs Villarreal

Arsenal’s exit from the Europa League came after a disappointing goalless draw at home to Villarreal and a 2-1 defeat in the first leg last week.

Gunners manager Mikel Arteta claimed his side were the better team over the two legs, an opinion former Arsenal player and caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg vehemently disagreed with on BT Sport after the match.

Ljungberg pointed out that over the two legs Arsenal had just four shots on target and his fellow pundit and former teammate Martin Keown agreed that this was down to Villarreal controlling the tie.

One man who did agree with Arteta about the control of the match was Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

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“Overall, we were the better side I think, only the first-half in Villarreal we played not at our level and that was enough to beat us,” Leno said.

“In the first-half of the first leg, all of us weren’t at our best but in the second-half in Villarreal and also today, I think we put everything inside but it was not good enough.

Leno admitted the mood in the Arsenal dressing room was a somber one as the players realised they have failed to achieve the success they so desperately sought after this season.

It’s very quiet, it’s a big disappointment because our target was to get to the final and win the Europa League. Now that’s not possible.”

The goalkeeper added that the loss could not only be put down to inexperience and that using that as an excuse would be the easy answer.

I think in the semi-final, the experience is very important and in some situations, you could see that but this is no excuse. In Villarreal and also today, we had more than enough chances to go through,” he added.

“We needed just one goal and if it’s just from a set-piece, or something else, it doesn’t matter. It’s too easy to say that it’s just experience.”

With defeat in Europe, this season is likely to end without qualification for continental football next season, the first time Arsenal have failed to achieve this in 26 years.

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With the Gunners sitting in ninth place in the league Arteta looks to be leading the club to their worst season in recent memory but Leno is determined to finish the league campaign on a high.

It’s very hard for all of us and for all the fans. We are all sad, hopefully we can make next season better than this season.

“But the season isn’t finished yet, we still have four games and we need to show, especially for our fans, that we fight for this club, we all love this club and this is all we can do now.”

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