“There was enough apprehension for Arsenal given the implications this tie had for their present and future,” writes Adrian Kajumba for Mail Online. “That the returning Unai Emery could deliver the fatal blow only increased it.
“Arsenal’s underwhelming, inconsistent campaign has left some, with the benefit of hindsight, wondering if Emery can consider himself a little unlucky the way things panned out at the Emirates and questioning the managerial change.
Arsenal were eighth when Emery was dismissed in November 2019 but have found themselves floundering even lower recently under Mikel Arteta.
“This woefully limp exit, when Arsenal performed as if they did not realise exactly what was on the line, will do nothing to silence Arteta’s critics.
“But doubting the decision to dispense with Emery would be revising history and also simplistic. Arsenal were on their worst run of form since 1992 as Emery’s reign drew to a close and a defensive mess, their goal getting repeatedly peppered.
“The atmosphere at the Emirates was toxic, leaving Emery regularly pleading with the supporters who wanted him gone, trying to strike up a connection that never came. His inability to get his message across was a factor there and with his players.”
“Season over. That is it. Arsenal are out of the Europa League and there will be no redemption in this wretched campaign,” writes Jason Burt for the Telegraph. “No trophy and, for a fifth consecutive year, no Champions League football.
“They are falling further and further behind.
“It was a deserved exit, despite twice striking the goal frame, with Villarreal the better side over both legs of this semi-final and there will be deserved criticism for Arsenal and their under-pressure manager Mikel Arteta who yet again unsuccessfully tinkered with his line-up.
“He looked callow. He looked stressed. He looked angry. He looked haunted. Like his team, he looked lost.
“Arsenal may start next season out of European competition for the first time since 1996, while even getting this far has been wholly unconvincing. They stumbled into the semi-finals.
“Maybe they will scrape into the grim, new Europa Conference League.”
“Maybe Unai Emery knew best. He certainly does in the Europa League, where he continued his fine record by bringing Villarreal to their first ever continental final, and left Mikel Arteta looking the novice,” writes Miguel Delaney for the Independent.
“Arsenal are out of Europe, and their manager is out of excuses.
“The fact they were eliminated by his predecessor’s frantic Villarreal only added to the sense of waste from a season that is now an undeniable failure.
“One stat beyond this 0-0 sums it up. Arsenal will next season not play European football for the first time in 25 years. It’s not exactly progress. Arteta’s big chance to save the season, and maybe even make it a success, ends in huge disappointment.
“They needed the leap, and the jolt, from this Europa League run. They got a bizarre performance, that wavered between the flatness that has been all too typical of this season to frantic final scenes.”
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“The Kroenke family may believe Arsenal belong in an elite, anti-competitive closed shop but, back in the real world, the diminishment has occurred on their watch,” writes Nick Ames for the Guardian.
“They would do well to expend energy on some vigorous soul searching closer to home rather than attempting to cheat an existing football structure that their asset currently appears a million miles from mastering.
“It is a significant personal setback, too, for Arteta. He was outdone over two legs by Unai Emery, the manager who was removed before his appointment, and only one of these teams ever seemed sure of their jobs.
“Arteta had overcomplicated his first-leg selection and went for broke here with an attack-minded lineup that, on paper, promised to fizz with creativity and movement.
“Instead they produced the dampest of squibs and there was the nagging sense, watching his players struggle to form the combinations that might break down relatively modest opponents, that he is approaching the confused, flailing territory that eventually accounted for his predecessor.”